ST. LOUIS – The nation remembered a horrific day in Boston one year ago Tuesday.
On the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, Boston has bounced back, and local runners will be among the 36,000 entrants for Monday's marathon.
Angry, patriotic, undefeated are some of the words to describe the national running community. Matt Kruger and Dr. Joe Shey were both in Boston a year ago. Both men were in a reflective mood on the one year anniversary of the bombing.
"At the time I had no idea it was a bomb. Thought a generator had blown or a transformer or something," said Shey, a dentist.
"My initial instinct that it was fireworks from Fenway, the Red Sox game," said Kruger, a structural engineer.
The two St. Louis runners were two blocks away when tragedy struck. Kruger called the aftermath of the bombing surreal.
"Within a matter of a minute or two I saw people fleeing the finish line area where the street that I was on and they just look frantic," said Kruger.
Shey, 57, started running marathons 20 years ago.
"So I had decided this would be my last marathon, so I was just trying to soak in the whole thing," he said.
His one and only Boston Marathon was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
"Almost all of the people who got injured were family members and spectators watching loved ones, and the fact that somebody I care for could've been hurt that really bothered me a lot," said Shey.
He says he'll be watching Monday's race online with friends.
"It's an emotional time. It's a proud time runners. It's a proud time for the U.S.," said Kruger.
Kruger is ready to compete for the second year in a row.
"Such joy and excitement as I prepare physically and mentally to go back. It's going to be an event unlike anything I've ever been a part of," he said.
According to the Boston Athletic Association website, there are at least 94 runners from the St. Louis area, including Illinois, registered to run Monday at the Boston Marathon.