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By Joseph Santoliquito

Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Everywhere they went, every corner they turned, and every hill they ran up and down, they all heard the same thing, “Thank you for running.” The 118th Boston Marathon was a great healing event, after the tragic Boston bombings claimed the lives of three and injured and maimed an estimated 264 last year.

For many local runners, they made sure they were going to run in this year’s marathon.

Andrew Keller, an Episcopal Academy graduate from Wayne, had concerns about running a better time than last year, since the horrid winter took a chunk out of his training schedule. Still, the 25-year-old ran a personal best 2:59 in his second Boston Marathon. Aside from a heavy police and military presence for safety reasons, the event carried a great sense of normalcy.

“It went really well,” Keller said. “The 2:59 I ran beat last year’s time, which was a little over three hours. I think what was a little surprising was that there weren’t too many things different from last year. The crowds seemed to be pretty much the same, but statistically it was bigger. When you’re running, you don’t notice too much.

“There was a moment of silence for the people that died last year, but overall, I was a little surprised how normal it seemed this time. The whole time the key word was ‘overcoming’ what happened last year. It was a lot more enjoyable. Last year was my first Boston Marathon, but the focus this year went from the individual to the whole event. Everything turned great.”

Meghan Bruce, who ran for Cherry Hill West High School and the College of New Jersey, concurred. She finished her first Boston Marathon in 3:21, just ahead of her aunt, Diane Tilley, who crossed the finish line in 3:38.

“My boss from work ran in it and he told me it’s a day where you get to feel like a celebrity and everyone cheers for you,” said Bruce, who watched the last two Boston Marathons and was a few blocks away when the bombs exploded last year. “I’m going to give myself a couple of days to rest. It was definitely hurt locker time a few hours after, but it was definitely worth it. I’m going back. What I’m going through now is definitely a good soreness. I’m not working in the morning and I know I’m going to get a good night’s sleep tonight. Everyone on the course cheering was yelling ‘Thank you for running!’ That was pretty cool. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.

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