Those who finished the Boston Marathon, and those who didn't, are remembering the joy that came from running, and how it was all blotted out in a few moments of terror. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
BOSTON -- It was a different kind of finish line on Tuesday. Twenty hours after runners almost made it to the end to the 26-plus mile race, many finally had a medal placed around their neck. Volunteers said congratulations and embraced the athletes, many of whom were fighting back tears.
For one of the runners, Lynay Smith, competing in the Boston Marathon had very personal meaning.
"It was a special number that I got because I just lost my father this past summer," Smith said.
Then, following two explosions at the end of the course, an event that was supposed to be about healing and accomplishment turned inexplicably terrifying.
"We got up to mile 25.5 and literally it was just spectators screaming 'stop.' There was an explosion and to get out of there as soon as possible," Smith said.
Spencer West and his wife had finished running and were in their third-floor hotel room, overlooking the finish line, when the bombing took place.
"I've never heard a bomb in my life but I knew right away," West said.
They saw marathon volunteers join runners and first responders, racing to help.
"Rather than running away, they were running literally to where the bomb went off. They were helping people out, jumping over the fence to get to people. It's just amazing," West said.
All day Tuesday, runners wandered around Boston in their trademark jackets, gazing at police barricades and FBI tactical trucks instead of swan boats and duck tours.
Many could not get back to their hotels, which were now part of a crime scene, but they said the spirit of the marathon had never felt stronger.
"People were amazing, offering to give you money so you could have food, blankets so you stay warm," Smith said.
"This is just such an historic race. I used to watch it as a kid with my dad," said West. "People have been great, it's just amazing."
West was handed a daffodil from Harriet Korim, a lifelong marathon fan, who returned to the route Tuesday to congratulate and thank the runners and hand them flowers of spring.
"Long-distance running is such a special sport because it is not about pummeling the other guy. There is so much camaraderie among the runners and mutual support," Korim said.
On the day after the fatal bombing, with nearly 200 runners and their supporters lying wounded in hospitals, runners said camaraderie and mutual support had never been more important.