Couple returns to Boston Marathon - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Couple returns to Boston Marathon

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Lynn and Ruth Vanzandt will run in the Boston Marathon on Monday. Lynn and Ruth Vanzandt will run in the Boston Marathon on Monday.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

After last year's bombing, many have made the decision to return to the starting line of the Boston Marathon, including runners from the Tennessee Valley.

Ruth and Lynn Vanzandt are two of them. They called Monday's race "closure."

"I was about between the half and the quarter mile from the finish and all of a sudden, people were running towards us and telling us to stop the race," Ruth said.

Stopped in her tracks, Ruth, along with other runners, looked around, wondering what was going on, until a murmur started to roll through the crowd. "And they were saying bombs had gone off at the finish line and there's a lot of people that have been hurt," Ruth explained.

Her heart began to race as her thoughts turned to her husband, Lynn, who was waiting for her by the finish line. "I was there about 30 minutes prior, trying to get a picture of my wife at the finish line," Lynn said, "and it was so crowded, I moved probably about 100 yards up."

After the bombs went off, Lynn started to help injured survivors. "A young man saw me, I had an Army Ranger sweatshirt on and he asked me if I would help get people evacuated into a store, we tried to get them off the street," Lynn said.

As Lynn helped injured survivors, Ruth made her way to a staging area. She had been stopped on the track about a half-mile before the finish line.

"The scary part was, I thought she wasn't at the finish line, but you don't know," Lynn said. "There's hundreds of thousands of people coming down Boylston Street."

About an hour later, the couple finally found each other in the crowd of people.

Now, they're headed back to Boston, but Lynn's spot in the race came about in a different way.

A few months after the marathon, the Boston Athletic Association announced plans to offer some of the marathon's highly coveted race bibs to potential runners if they could demonstrate in an essay how they were affected by the bombing.

"I just kind of generalized what happened that day, where I was at and what I did, not expecting to get it," Lynn said.

But just a few weeks later, Lynn learned his essay had been accepted and he would be running in the Boston Marathon.

"I've been running all my life, I've never done the Boston Marathon," Lynn said. "It's even more special to be able to go back, and it's almost like getting some closure because of the situation we left."

467 people across the country won spots in the Boston Marathon based on their essays. Both Lynn and Ruth said they feel more comfortable since both of them will be on the track this year and not separated, like last year.

"It's going to be great to be able to run, just to honor those people, high-five everyone I can, to hug the policemen and the soldiers that will line the course," Ruth said. "It's just special."

On Monday, they'll both race to show that freedom, not fear, will win this race.

"Bad things happen and it makes things seem dark, but then you have the good things that shine the light on that and show you really that this world isn't really all evil and that good can overcome it," Ruth said.

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