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“It’s weird to talk about being affected by the marathon,” Plourd said. “No one I know was injured. A lot of us had really horrible experiences, but everyone walked away unscathed.”

But the victims are “so inspiring,” she said. “If people who have gone through this tragic experience can pull it together and be so strong, I figured I could, too.”

Orthopedic surgeon Sue Griffith is raising money for Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia to supply prosthetics for children. She wrote that she was celebrating her finish last year “until I found out that the cannons I heard at the finish line were actually bombs.”

Returning to work in Doylestown, Penn., she found her friend and running companion Amy O’Neill on her patient list with shrapnel deeply embedded in her calf.

They are returning to Boston together, Nos. 21321 and 21648.

“It’s going to be a great event, and we’re going to celebrate with the people of Boston,” Griffith said in a telephone interview. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”

These are the people the B.A.A. was hoping to find, Grilk said, when it opened up the usually rigorous entry process for those who might qualify on an emotional level as well. Organizers heard from doctors and nurses and soldiers and victims and first-responders - the usual kind like police and firefighters, but also the ordinary individuals who rushed in to help.

Sarah Gasse, a nursing student who volunteered last year, said receiving her bib this way was itself an honor. Now 21, she wrote in her essay that her mother also ran the race when she was 21 and following her footsteps from Hopkinton to Copley Square had long been a goal.

“Because of my experience, it now holds an entirely new meaning for me,” wrote Gasse, No. 28230. “Running the 2014 Boston Marathon would allow me to pay homage to those lost and injured that day, one more runner proving just how strong Boston truly is.”


The submissions were raw with emotion, heavily introspective, often desperate, and yet unexpectedly hopeful.

“There are faces and images that I will never forget, and even writing about my experience now is proving more difficult than I had imagined,” Gasse wrote. “Yet, despite the emotional trauma that ensued that day, I have a fire of passion in me that I have never known before. I am more confident than ever in my calling to work in health care.”

One of about 20 UMass-Boston nursing students who volunteered last year to serve on a sweep team, Gasse was at the finish line with a wheelchair to scoop up exhausted runners.

“There’s nothing like being at the finish line of the Boston Marathon,” Wald, a nursing professor who had run the race five times, told her students. “You’re going to be so inspired.”

“I made them read articles about hypothermia, blisters, cramps. And instead they were carrying people with tourniquets around their legs and horrific injuries,” Wald said on Tuesday, the anniversary of the attacks. “I was so worried that I had traumatized them all.

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