Why they'll run

Katie Pratt

It was an unforgettable event for all the wrong reasons. The 117th running of the Boston Marathon was marred by terror and tragedy, shattering the idyllic backdrop of one of our city's most anticipated days and dramatically altering the lives of thousands of people who witnessed the carnage that day.

Some suffered visible injuries, some have battled through unseen anguish that lingers a year later.

Many who were touched by the bombings last April 15 found solace in running; some earned entry into this year's race by writing essays. They will line up in Hopkinton on Monday morning to take yet another step toward healing.

Here are a few of their stories:


Sabrina Dello Russo, running because her friend can't

They were intoxicated by the brilliant blue sky, by the afterglow of a spirited matinee at Fenway Park. As they leisurely strolled from Kenmore Square to the marathon finish line, the vibe of a most treasured Boston afternoon -- Patriots Day -- pulsated through the city.

Roseann Sdoia turned to her friend and declared, "Let's run next year.''

"Yes,'' Sabrina Dello Russo responded enthusiastically. "We can do this!"

They discussed it at Forum Restaurant on Boylston Street, where they tracked the progress of their friend Jen Amstead. As she drew closer to the finish, they plopped their drinks down and informed the bartender, "We'll be right back.''

The women gathered in front of Forum with additional friends. Sabrina stood behind a mailbox near the entrance, with Roseann to her right. Photographs would later show Roseann Sdoia was 10 feet from Martin Richard and his family.

As Amstead turned left onto Boylston from Hereford Street, the first bomb exploded.

"We all kind of flinched, because we could hear it and feel it,'' Dello Russo said.

Roseann would later say she thought it was a celebratory cannon, an odd departure from the marathon tradition she knew so well.

Their friend Megan Lawrence screeched, "We've got to get out of here!" yet Sabrina remained eerily calm. "I'm not going anywhere,'' she thought. "I'm going to take Jen's picture crossing the finish line.''

Within seconds, the second bomb blew Dello Russo backwards. The force wrenched the phone from her hands and slammed her to the pavement.

As she lay on the ground, Sabrina looked to her left and saw people running, shouting, panicking.

"But when I looked to my right, I saw something different,'' Dello Russo said.

There was no movement, no sound, just bloodied bodies, some with severed limbs, lying still on the pavement.

Sabrina Dello Russo isn't sure how long it took for her to finally sit up.

"But when I did,'' she said, "my friends were gone.''

Some jumped the barrier into the street. Megan retreated to a nearby store.

Roseann was nowhere to be found.

In the frantic minutes that followed, Sabrina and Megan re-connected and called their families. They received a text informing them Roseann was seriously injured, and headed for Mass General Hospital.

Sabrina, who had shrapnel embedded in her jeans but not in her skin, was diagnosed with a concussion. She waited at Mass General Hospital for news of her friend, who was in surgery. Finally, at 8 p.m., she was told Roseann was OK.

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