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Boston Marathon bombing: Studio City runner returns to race

by John Rabe | Off-Ramp®

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Renee Opell with friends Phil Kent and Jennifer Hartman at the 2013 Boston Marathon, mile 25. This photo was taken just minutes before the first blast. Photo courtesy of Renee Opell

In 2013, Off-Ramp host John Rabe talked with marathoner Renee Opell after she narrowly escaped the carnage of the Boston Marathon bombs. John called Renee again today and found out she's got her ticket for this year's marathon. Runners don't like it when you keep them from finishing what they started.

"We were having a glorious day, the weather was perfect, and we were moving along at a pretty steady pace," Studio City resident Renee Opell told us about running Boston Marathon April 15, 2013, with two friends. The group stopped to take a picture of themselves near the finish line. "Come on, let's go, we're almost done," Opell said. Then, the first explosion went off — just 30 yards away. But if they hadn't stopped? It's a cosmic question that Opell and her friends can't avoid.

"It is the best picture of my life, no doubt about it, and I kind of chuckle when I think about telling them to hurry up. But honestly, it kept us away from a bad place."

Now, Renee and her friends, Phil Kent and Jennifer Hartman, are in the final stages of prepping for running the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21. Yes, they're going back. In fact, they were invited back by race officials.

RELATED: Listen to the complete Off-Ramp interview with Renee Opell in 2013

Did the three friends talk about the bombings over the past year? "We talked a lot about it right after the bombing, and for the weeks following. And for me personally, I had a little PTSD, and sudden noises certainly shook me up." But she knows they were fortunate, "and for my personal satisfaction, I look forward to going beyond the finish line this year."

You're not scared, I asked? "I have no trepidation," Opell said Tuesday. "I'm very excited to go back and run the race from start to finish this year. I never felt that I would stay away from a marathon."

RELATED: BAA confirms expanded field for 2014 Boston Marathon

And neither do the 20 additional people from her local running group who will be accompanying them —as well as the 9,000 other runners who will be racing this year in Boston. 

She laughs in agreement when I ask if this is a big middle finger to the terrorists. "Absolutely. You can't squelch a runner. We're gonna show up; we're gonna show them. And I think the country is counting on us to do that as well."

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