Survivors, first-responders reflect: "Things like this don't happen to people like me."

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BOSTON — For Police Commissioner Bill Evans, running is a way to clear his head. He's run 44 marathons, 18 of them in Boston. But this year, he will be on the sidelines of his favorite race.

"I had signed up for the race six months ago, but given the security concerns, obviously I'll be on foot all over the place making sure that we are doing our job," Evans says. "There is a buzz, a little bit of fear in the air about what could happen this year."

Evans, then police superintendent, crossed the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon before bombs went off. As soon as he heard of the bombing, he went right back to Boylston Street.

"The whole way there, I kept hoping that what I heard wasn't true," he remembers. "When I walked onto Boylston Street and I saw the destruction, the bodies — Martin Richards lying there, Lingzi Lu — it hit home. I had run down the street earlier and there was so much joy. To return to the same scene is a memory I will never get out of my head."

This year, 36,000 runners — 9,000 more than last year — will take to the streets for the Boston Marathon in a tribute to victims, survivors, first responders and Boston's resilience.

"I am looking forward to the race," Evans says. "I want to move on. I want the marathon to return to what it's always been, and that's a great day in the city of Boston."

Survivor Michele Mahoney still finds herself thinking: "Things like this don't happen to people like me."

Mahoney and Jim Blackburn had been on only four dates when Mahoney asked him to come cheer as her friend crossed the finish line at the 2013 Boston Marathon. "We are right in front of Marathon Sports when you get here," she texted him.

Two minutes later, the first bomb went off where Mahoney was standing. She was thrown to the ground by the blast and suffered severe injuries to her legs. The two bombs at the finish line killed three people and wounded more than 260, launching a manhunt that gripped the nation.

As the one-year mark ap

proaches April 15 and the 2014 Boston Marathon is just 10 days away, Mahoney says the year has been nothing like she expected.

"Some days it feels like yesterday, and some days it didn't happen at all," she says. "I don't know if it will ever be real."

After a number of surgeries and months of therapy, Mahoney is back on her feet. "I was prepared to lose my foot and even my leg," she says. " Luckily, I didn't end up losing anything."

Today, Mahoney is back to running, back to work and head-over-heels in love with Blackburn, who she says "hasn't left my side since" the bombing.

But the memories are still fresh. Mahoney remembers everything that led doctors to think she could lose her leg.

"I stayed conscious the whole time," she says. "It felt like a movie scene. "

"I am lying on the ground and there are body parts all around me and my legs are bleeding," Mahoney recalls. "I just saw how many people were helping and I thought, "I know my person is going to come for me soon.'"

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured hiding in a boat in Watertown, Mass., is set to go on trial Nov. 3. The trial is expected to last about three months. His brother and suspected accomplice, Tamerlan, was killed during the manhunt after the bombing.

Richard DesLauriers, former special agent in change of the Boston division of the FBI during the first 90 days of the investigation, says he is looking forward to the trial bringing closure.

DesLauriers recalls the moment the suspects were found and arrested.

"There wasn't a sense of jubilation. It had been too tragic a week," he remembers. "There was no back-slapping, no high-fiving. There was a sense of tremendous relief. ... We had prevented more bombs from going off in Boston or anywhere else inside the United States."

Inside the Hunt for the Boston Bombers premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday on the National Geographic Channel.

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