CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thousands of runners raced around Uptown Charlotte Saturday morning in the Thunder Road Marathon.
Local Boston Marathon survivor Nicole Gross served as the race starter and counted down for the other runners at the start. Gross crossed the finish line with Erika Brannock, a Baltimore resident who lost a leg and suffered serious injuries to the other in the bombing. They are battered, but not beaten.
“It kind of united us all together again and expressed to ourselves and to everyone else that we’re not afraid to be back at the finish line and to cross,” Gross said.
Race organizers said while the survivors’ presence was meaningful and touching, every person there had a reason to be proud.
“It’s purpose, it’s drive, it’s determination. It’s a mountain-top experience, whether it’s your first 5K – or we have a guy running his 200th marathon. Two hundred marathons! And he’s doing it here today!” said media coordinator DC Lucchesi.
Hundreds of family members and friends cheered on participants from the sidelines as everyone completed the run.
“The last time we were at a finish line, we didn’t get to see what we can do, so this time was definitely heartwarming,” Michael Gross, Nicole’s husband, said.
As if finishing a marathon wasn't exciting enough, the race felt even more special for two participants who go engaged following their run. Lindsey McCormick, of course, said yes to now fiancé Bobby Conrad.