WASHINGTON — The northeastern U.S. city of Boston is getting ready for its first marathon since the 2013 race, in which terrorist bombs killed three people and wounded 265 others. This year, the annual Boston Marathon takes place April 21, with about 36,000 participants registered -- thousands more than last year. Organizers, survivors and participants are determined not to allow painful memories of last year's bloodshed to undermine a tradition that started in 1897.
Marathon Sports, a sport store, is close to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. When a bomb exploded outside its doors on April 15 of last year, the store became a makeshift emergency room. Manager Shane O'Hara said that when some of the most seriously wounded were brought in, his employees tore sports clothes off hangers to make tourniquets and bandages.
"We had one kind of where we're standing now, and we had one in the corner, I had one on the bench, and I want to say there was one down in the basement. The scene outside was the most gruesome thing I've ever seen, other than just watching an actual war-style movie, that's what you saw, but this was totally real life," said O’Hara.
O'Hara is still recovering from the mental shock of the experience. A marathon runner from last year, Heather Abbott, was one of many victims who lost their limbs in the blast. Her left leg was amputated below the knee and she received a life-like prosthesis.
"I think I found myself to be a little more emotional than I expected at this time of the year, just because it brings back memories of what I was doing around this time last year, and the fact that I didn't know I only had a few weeks left with my two legs," said Abbott.
Abbott attended a memorial service Tuesday for the victims of the attack. With her was Peter Riddle, one of the people who helped get her to safety after the attack. At the service, Vice President Joe Biden praised Americans for the courage displayed in the face of terrifying carnage, and for registering to run in even greater numbers this year.
"America will never, ever - ever - stand down. We are Boston, we are America, we respond, we endure, we overcome and we own the finish line," said Biden.
Abbott said she plans to be at that finish line Monday to watch two first-time Boston Marathon runners cross it. They were the two people who first ran to her aid.
"I'll be watching Erin Chatham, who's the woman who initially found me on the ground, cross the finish line. She's running the marathon for the first time, and Peter [Riddle] is as well, so I'm really excited to be with them that day," said Abbott.
Security has been bolstered for this year's Boston Marathon. Authorities will increase the number of police officers in the city, while bags, bottles and canisters are banned along the marathon route. It is believed that the suspected bombers carried homemade explosives in their backpacks.