asmin Ali, 30, South Boston

I need to take back what had once been my favorite holiday. Patriots Day, for me, was the quintessential Boston event. I loved the Marathon. I had always wanted to do it. I completed the B.A.A. Half in October 2012. I began training for the Marathon with my boyfriend, Jack. He was running it for the first time. Unfortunately, law school got in my way. But I had two passes for Finish Line seats. As we sat, my friend, Anna, and I commented on the perfect weather. I felt so inspired by the runners. I pointed out a gentleman in a red tank top right in front of us. Suddenly, he fell over.
After the second explosion, I grabbed Anna's hand and ran with the crowd. I tried calling Jack. I remembered he didn't have his phone. Jeff Bauman came by. I hung up.

It was an unnatural juxtaposition. Anna and I hysterically cried as we walked to the Friends and Family area to try and find Jack. Naturally, everyone was celebrating loved ones. They didn't know. I didn't even know that Jack's longtime friends, standing on the other side of Boylston, had been hit with shrapnel and lay bleeding on the sidewalk. It marked what would become a never-ending journey for them. I was lucky. Sleepless nights, flashbacks, uncontrollable shaking, crying, and numbness eventually subsides. But the guilt does not.

I am asking you for this opportunity. I need to run for those who helped me. I need to run for those who will now never have the chance. I need to run to take back that day. I need to run for my city. Boston Strong.

Dan Benshoff, 48, West Hartford, Conn.

I was laying on my back in the medical tent when the bombs went off. Under a heap of blankets surrounded by medical workers I was wracked with cramps and feeling sick. An hour earlier I crossed the line on Boylston disappointed with my finishing time. This was my first Boston Marathon and I thought I had it all figured out. I put the training hours in and was convinced each marathon I ran would...

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