Among the 36,000 runners who took part in the Boston marathon on Monday, one group stood out for their courage - survivors of last year's deadly twin bombing.
Ms Celeste Corcoran was one of them. The 47-year-old was standing near the finish line to cheer on her sister Carmen Acabbo at last year's marathon when the bomb went off. She lost both legs and suffered a ruptured right eardrum in the attack which killed three people and injured 264. Her 19-year-old daughter, Sydney, who was with her, nearly bled to death after shrapnel flew into her right thigh, according to the Boston Globe.
On Monday, Ms Corcoran, fitted with a pair of prosthetic blades, and her daughter joined Ms Acabbo near the Boston Marathon finish line at about 4pm. The trio ran the last block together, surrounded by journalists. She raised her hands in the air and said: "We did it."
“Negative power is officially gone from this spot... Terrorists never, ever win,” she was quoted as saying by the Boston Globe. “For me, I did this for every single person who can’t run this race."
Bombing victims Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky also returned to the marathon. The couple, who each lost a left leg, did the run on handcycles and crossed the finish line, hand-in-hand. They completed the course from Hopkinton to Boston in about 2 hours and 14 minutes.
The newly-weds were spectators at last year's event - they had wanted to soak up the atmosphere at the marathon before they leave Boston for San Francisco where Mr Downes was supposed to take up a psychology fellowship. Recalling the traumatic event in an interview with the Boston Globe, Ms Kensky, 32, said: “I didn’t hear a noise. I didn’t see anything. I just felt like Patrick and I were on a rocket.” She said she tried to block her husband's view from his own severed foot while a passer-by tried to put out the fire on the back of her clothes.
They were taken to two different hospitals and were reunited 15 days after the incident. Mr Downes, 30, told the Boston Globe: “We’ve been married a year and a half, but it’s like we have the knowledge of a couple that’s been married 10 years.”
Among the runners were another group of 28 survivors who wore white T-shirts that had 4.15 Strong printed on the front and Survivor on the back. The group, which calls itself 4.15 Strong, sprung out of an offer by the Boston Athletic Association, which organises the marathon, for survivors to enter the 2014 race, reported New York Times.
They started training in December last year, but some were initially unsure about taking part in the event, not having run a marathon before. Others had mixed feelings about returning to the scene. To help the members overcome their fear and anxiety, the group chose to meet outside a running store just yards from the finish line where the first bomb exploded. “Just to get the elephant out of the room,” said the group's co-founder Dave Fortier, 49, who owns a telecommunications company in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Still, some of them were overwhelmed by emotions when the day finally arrived. Physical therapist Lee Ann Yanni, another co-founder of the group, told The New York Times she began crying as she saw the bleachers and photographer’s bridge erected again at the finish line on Boylston Street. She had been standing near the finish line when the first bomb went off. She fractured her left fibula and damaged muscles and nerves in the leg. “It’s funny how your body realises what day it is,” said the 32-year-old.
The group members said taking part in the marathon this year has helped them in one way or another. Mr Fortier, who completed the run in 3 hours, 59 minutes, 17 seconds, said: “It feels like we’ve taken something back.”