BOSTON - This year's marathon proved that "Boston Strong" isn't just a saying. It is 100% true. And, several people from southwest Florida helped make that true on Monday, pushing through the grueling 26.2 miles as well as the infamous Heartbreak Hill, all to help make the 118th year the strongest ever.
"36,000 runners today," North Fort Myers High School graduate and wheelchair division participant Arielle Rausin said. "The spirit of runners is so amazing."
But at this year's Boston Marathon, the spirit seemed just a little bit stronger.
"There weren't a lot of divisions," runner Cindy Matthes-Loy said. "In the past, everyone clusters up. It just felt like solidarity. There was definitely a different feel to it."
These racers traveled hundreds of miles from southwest florida and logged hundreds of their own, earning their spots at the start line.
"My quads were screaming really hard but it was really cool with the support on the sides, there was barely anywhere where there weren't people on the sides of the roads," runner Richard Olitsky said. "In some places, 5-10 people deep werescreaming as loud as they can. There were a lot if people out there cheering for survivors, survivors running.
"It was wonderful to cross the finish line," runner Frank Vecchione said. "I was struggling from like 17 miles in. I could barely finish but it was wonderful to be a part if it. Even though most people were blowing by me, it was wonderful just to be there and to see it completed.
With each footstep, each push of the wheel, localathletes helped finish a race that an act of terror last year put on old. 2014, they said, was all about unity.
"It is an amazing race and the supporters were so amazing," Rausin said. "Everything that happened last tear and came back even stronger."