IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Spokane Marathoners Running To Make Bosto - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Spokane Marathoners Running To Make Boston Even Stronger

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KHQ.COM - "Runners are a breed of their own, they're fighters," explained Heather LeFriec, who runs with the Spokane Swifts, an all-female competitive running club. "If you tell them they can't do something, they'll go do it. They like the challenge, that's mostly why they run."

That is why she, and many other runners from Spokane, are not surprised by the fact that this year's Boston Marathon is bigger than ever, with over 36,000 runners participating. The Spokane Swifts alone are sending 18 runners.

"We're really excited to be there together," said LeFriec. "We share a bond because doing something like Boston together makes those bonds stronger."

For marathon runners, Boston is one of the most, if not 'the' most, prestigious races.

Javier Pita, who has completed 24 marathons, says it's his favorite race.

"There's nothing regular about Boston, it's special," Pita explained.

Last year, he made it to Mile 25 when he was pulled from the race. He's going back this year to finish what he started.

"Last year's Boston Marathon was quite an impact moment I'll never forget," he explained. "I've been waiting quite a while for this year. I'm really looking forward to it."

Pita was also not surprised that so many runners were headed back to Boston just like him  to finish what they started last year to stay "Boston Strong."

"I'd say we're a pretty tough group; we're not easily deterred."

For Nicole Lund, this is her 14th marathon, but first Boston Marathon.

"It was always out there to qualify and run this race, so it was always there in the back of my mind."

And this race is very personal for Lund.

For one, she is going to Boston because her friends fundraised money to send her across the country to compete. Additionally, she is running to honor her father and brother-in-law, who both are currently battling cancer.

And, like many runners, she feels empowered by the "Boston Strong" mindset that came out of last year's event.

"My pace would have put me close to the finish at that time last year," she explained. "It hit home because it's people like me, not elite runners, who run that pace but to see how everyone came together and ran together, it's made me grateful to be a part of that community."

This year's Boston Marathon is only Jennifer Van Cott's 2nd marathon  her first race was her qualifier run in Park City, Utah.

Van Cott is a seasoned athlete, but even though she is relatively new to the marathon scene, she is already "Boston Strong."

"I don't have personal ties to anyone who experienced the bombing last year," she explained. "But the running community's really small, everyone's really supportive of each other.  We band together, in Spokane everyone is running for other people other than ourselves that's the most emotional part."

She said on Monday she will run one mile for every person in her family, and will also be thinking about those hurt in last year's bombing.

"Running is a commitment in and of itself, so to do it for more than yourself is really important," said Van Cott. "It's a way to commit to anything.  There's got to be a bigger meaning to it."

So, as veteran racers and first-time marathoners from the Inland Northwest head across the country, they bring the strength, determination, and drive they built up in Spokane, both physically and emotionally, to make the city of Boston even stronger.

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