- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HOLLY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - When Anita Harless told her sons that she was returning to the Boston Marathon this year, they told her they didn’t want to come, she said.

“I asked my oldest son, ‘Austin, why don’t you want to go?’ He said, ‘Mom, I’m 14. I don’t want to die. I don’t even want to think about dying at 14.’ My 11-year-old (Alec) said, ‘That’s what I was going to say,’” Harless of Holly Township said. “I told them that they can’t live in fear.”

Harless, who ran in the Boston Marathon last year, told The Oakland Press (http://bit.ly/1ncrSeC ), “The (bombing) happened 30 minutes after I finished.”

The Harless family was in line to buy lunch near the course when the two bombs went off - killing three people and injuring 264 more.

Harless said, as soon as the bombs went off, everyone in the restaurant dropped to the ground and hid under tables and benches.

She said her 11-year-old son, Alec, saw people who were badly injured. He took the bombing the hardest, Harless said, and it was difficult for him to fall asleep at night after returning home.

And, even one year later, loud noises like a bomb sound on television or a tree breaking during a storm, will make them relive the memory of the bombing.

Despite the bad memories associated with that day, Harless decided to go again this year to pay homage to those who can’t be there.

And Austin and Alec finally agreed to come with her again this year - to support her.

“Last year, Austin carried me for four miles. He never stopped holding me up until we were able to get to the subway,” Harless said.

She said this will be the final time she will run in the Boston Marathon. She said she needs to attend it as “closure.”

“To be able to run the Boston Marathon after everything that’s happened, it’s powerful,” she said.

Every Sunday this winter, Harless and her friends have trained together at Indian Springs Metropark in White Lake - running at least 20 miles.

Fenton residents Rochelle Jones and Kathy McGowan are both running in the Boston Marathon this year and have trained alongside Harless.

“I think there will be more celebration this year - celebration that, as runners, we are very strong and resilient. We come together in tragedy. Nothing stops a runner,” said Jones.

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