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Originally published Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 5:45 PM

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Thousands return to finish boston marathon

The Boston Marathon bombing prevented some runners from completing their run. More than a month later, thousands of athletes joined the victims to run the final leg of the marathon.

The Associated Press

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BOSTON — Rosy Spraker was only a half-mile from the finish line of her seventh Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. She received her medal later in the mail at her Lorton, Va., home. But she couldn’t bring herself to wear it until Saturday, when she and thousands of other athletes joined victims of the blast to run and walk the last mile of the race.

“Now I feel like I’ve earned my medal,” Spraker said, beaming, after she crossed the Boylston Street finish line, encouraged by a cheering crowd. “I wanted to run for the victims, for freedom, to show the world that nothing is going to stop us.”

“Somebody that thinks that they’re going to stop a marathoner from running doesn’t understand the mentality of a marathoner,” said her husband, Lesley, after he placed the medal around Spraker’s neck.

On April 15, explosions near the finish line killed three people and wounded more than 260.

On Saturday, about 3,000 runners and bombing victims gathered to run the final mile of the world’s oldest annual marathon, said Kathleen McGonagle, spokeswoman for those organizing the event known as OneRun. “For the runner that didn’t get the chance to finish the marathon, this is the chance for them to experience the final mile that was taken away from them,” she said.

Before the race, the national anthem was sung by the choir from St. Ann Parish, where 8-year-old victim Martin Richard’s family worshipped.

“It was a beautiful thing,” said Steve Poirier, of Chelmsford, who was running his sixth Boston Marathon when he was turned back last month. “As a runner, you want the chance to finish. Better late than never.”

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