Western Mass runners to honor Marathon with run on Sunday - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Western Mass runners to honor Marathon with run on Sunday

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Two Western Mass runners, who ran the Boston Marathon, will honor those injured and killed in the marathon bombings with a run of their own on Sunday.

Runners with the Western Mass Distance Project, Jason Ayr and Vanessa Holford Diana, described the Boston Marathon like everyone else - a beautiful event that celebrates athleticism and inspires people from across the world.

Now they say that's not changing, even after Monday's attack.

"When you approach that finish line it is the most stunningly beautiful thing, and you're so relieved to that it's almost over, and the flags flying, it symbolizes that this is an international event where we all come together with this shared purpose," said Diana, a Westfield State University professor.

She crossed that finish line Monday and was just reuniting with her family.

"We were about to go down and get out of the city and that's when we heard the blasts," she said.

Those two blasts sent both runners and spectators fleeing for their lives. The finish line Diana cherished so much is now a crime scene.

"Police were running up away from Boylston at full tilt at us, saying, 'Run away from us! Fast, right now, this is not safe,'" she recalled.

Meantime, Ayr had just finished an epic run, being 55th overall in the race. He was back at mile 23 cheering on his fellow marathoners.

"I was pretty happy about my race and I was just kind of celebrating with friends and family, then all of a sudden my mom called my sister and said 'You guys need to get off the sidewalk and come back to the apartment,'" said Ayr, a teacher at Commerce in Springfield.

His mom then informed them there had been a bombing at the marathon.

"In that moment it wasn't real, it was more kind of like, 'Should we actually go inside? I guess we'll go inside because mom's nervous,'" he said.

But amidst the fear and chaos, Ayr and Diana say the spirit of the marathon never truly left.

"There were a lot of beautiful moments, too, where people would give runners jackets and things because they were really cold," Diana said.

They both say that's why they'll be running again next year.

"We're all making plans, Boston 2014 is actually what's going to happen," Ayr said.

"Resilience, I think that's a shared value that we all want to harness in the face of moments of terror," Diana said.

They will be hosting a run at Stanley Park at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Anyone is invited to attend or bring a donation.

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