Essays that earned Marathon spots

The Boston Athletic Association granted nearly 500 people entrance into the 118th running of the Boston Marathon based on essays they wrote on how profoundly impacted they were by the bombings at the 2013 race.

Below are 14 of those essayists awarded bibs for Monday's race:

Jasmin Ali, 30, South Boston

I need to take back what had once been my favorite holiday. Patriots Day, for me, was the quintessential Boston event. I loved the Marathon. I had always wanted to do it. I completed the B.A.A. Half in October 2012. I began training for the Marathon with my boyfriend, Jack. He was running it for the first time. Unfortunately, law school got in my way. But I had two passes for Finish Line seats. As we sat, my friend, Anna, and I commented on the perfect weather. I felt so inspired by the runners. I pointed out a gentleman in a red tank top right in front of us. Suddenly, he fell over.

After the second explosion, I grabbed Anna's hand and ran with the crowd. I tried calling Jack. I remembered he didn't have his phone. Jeff Bauman came by. I hung up.

It was an unnatural juxtaposition. Anna and I hysterically cried as we walked to the Friends and Family area to try and find Jack. Naturally, everyone was celebrating loved ones. They didn't know. I didn't even know that Jack's longtime friends, standing on the other side of Boylston, had been hit with shrapnel and lay bleeding on the sidewalk. It marked what would become a never-ending journey for them. I was lucky. Sleepless nights, flashbacks, uncontrollable shaking, crying, and numbness eventually subsides. But the guilt does not.

I am asking you for this opportunity. I need to run for those who helped me. I need to run for those who will now never have the chance. I need to run to take back that day. I need to run for my city. Boston Strong.

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