(WEAU) – A year has gone by since the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Now survivors and runners from last year, including an Altoona man, say they want to make it across the finish line again in tribute of the victims.
43-year-old Michael Olson will be among 36,000 runners who are registered to run on Monday, April 21. That’s 9,000 more runners than 2013. 450 runners are from Wisconsin.
“My wife actually asked me this morning, are you feeling emotional? It was a sad day. I was actually somewhat surprised because I had been so excited about going back for the celebration, but it was sad today thinking about a young boy who lost his life and peoples whose lives were changed forever. It was heart wrenching,” said Olson
Olson said he had finished the marathon 30 minutes before the bombs exploded. He was about 20 yards from the finish line where it happened.
Olson was running with one of his best friends from Elk Mound, he said. They even finished together and were on their way back to the hotel when they heard an explosion.
“We started to get text messages on our phones, ‘are you okay, are you okay’ and we didn’t know what happened. Phones were out you couldn't get through to anyone,” said Olson. All he could do was write a message post on Facebook simply saying “We r ok.”
He said the atmosphere was full of sadness. This had been Olson’s third Boston Marathon.
“You go out to the restaurants and everybody's talking to each other and everybody's excited. And that night, nobody was talking. Eyes were on screens watching the news and it was a really sad ending to what is normally a really exciting event,” said Olson.
He said on the flight back home, he and his wife already knew they'd be back again this year. He said the race this year is about a celebration.
“It’s a celebration of running, it’s a celebration of normal people accomplishing amazing things and there is 30,000 of them there and I think that’s the great thing about Boston; people whose entire dream is to qualify for this race,” said Olson.
He said people have been training to qualify and saving up to be a part of the Boston Marathon and to lose lives and dreams on the same day was difficult for many.
“That might’ve been their one chance, the one year that they qualified,” said Olson. “So not only the tragedy of lives lost, people injured, but some dreams were tarnished, so we're going to go back and get those dreams back and celebrate it better than ever.”
Olson said he and his wife will take off for Boston on Friday with their 10-year-old son. They’ll do some sightseeing and visit Fenway Park before they return to Wisconsin. His wife and son will also take part in a 5K the day before the marathon.