Published: Apr 23, 2014 11:19 AM EDT
Updated: Apr 23, 2014 11:20 AM EDT

BOSTON - It's one of the biggest sporting events in the entire country. Monday was the 118th Boston Marathon, and it was an especialy emotional one, just a year after bombs exploded near the finish line. WINK News anchor Haley Hinds has been following the stories of our local runners for weeks. She joined them in Boston to find out how southwest Florida played a role in such a monumental day for the city.

Among the 36,000 runners this year, several local runners in particular were back, one year after getting caught in the middle of last year's bombing attack.
It's been a year of reflection for them. And, returning definitely brought back some of the same emotions from the last race.

After conquering the 26.2 miles, they left with a sense of unity and pride for the city.

"It was very solemn. We had a moment of silence," runner Cindy Matthes-Loy said. "There weren't a lot of divisions. In the past, everyone clusters up. It just felt like solidarity. There was definitely a different feel to it."

"My quads were screaming really hard but it was really cool with the support on the sides," runner Richard Olitsky recalled. "There was barely anywhere where there weren't people on the sides of the roads. In some places, there were five to ten people deep screaming as loud as they can. Wellesley was a lot of fun because all the women were out there giving high fives. The people were great. It felt really good and really safe."

"The experience last year made this year that much better," runner Frank Vecchione said. "It was wonderful to cross the finish line. 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."

All three of these runners say they will be back next year to take on the Boston Marathon once again in its 119th year.