On April 15, 2013, the way people see the Boston Marathon changed forever. Two bombs detonated at the finish line, killing three and injuring more than 260 others. But the tragedy didn't keep runners from participating this year. In fact, our Cara Thomas tells us athletes were more determined than ever to finish the race.
BOSTON, MA -- The Boston Marathon has always been a popular event. It's known as one of the most iconic races in the world by the running community.
Tim Reed, executive director of the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, said, "It's one of the few races where you actually have to have a qualifying time to be able to get into it."
But last year, this monumental event quickly turned into one of the biggest tragedies our country has ever seen.
Reed said, "It was exactly like 9-11 where when you saw the second plane hit, you knew, when the second bomb went off, it was a terrorism attack."
"We were right there. I cross the finish line. My father walked by the finish line. We were just there. To know that that's happening an hour, two hours later, it was just unbelievable," said Jerry Tylutki, a Utica native who has run the Boston Marathon four years in a row.
It was an act that could have ended the Boston Marathon, but instead it did the exact opposite. The 118th Boston Marathon was held on Monday and it was the second largest field in the race's history.
Tylutki said, "Usually I need a couple weeks or a month to say oh yeah I'll go back and run Boston again next year but as soon as I heard about it, I knew I was coming back."
More than 36,000 other runners did the same thing. They came back to honor the three people who were killed and the 260 who were injured. Thinking of them throughout all 26.2 miles.
"When you make that final left onto Boylston Street and you've got 4/10 of a mile, that 4/10 was just all us taking back the finish line, taking back Boston and just taking back the race," said Tylutki.
Reed said, "To run the Boston Marathon is extremely special, to run this year's Boston Marathon is one, you know, you'll tell your grandkids."
In honor of last year's Boston Marathon bombing victims, the Utica Boilermaker and the Red Cross will be holding a blood drive.
Anyone who donates a pint of blood will be given a pint glass. There will also be a raffle to give out two coveted Boilermaker running bibs.
The blood drive is this Friday, at the Radisson Hotel in Utica. It runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.