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Boston Strong runners prepare for Monday's race

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Thousands of runners who will be a part of the 118th running of the Boston Marathon have arrived in Boston, and those runners know just how special this year's 26.2 mile run will be.

There are 10,000 more runners this year than in the past. What's most incredible is many of them are returning from 2013. So when we talk about Monday focusing on moving forward, many already have. This is the beginning and the end for the 36,000 runners who'll step off in this year's Marathon.

During the Boston Marathon Expo at the Hynes Convention Center Friday night participants picked up their numbers, tried out the latest running gear, purchased official race jackets and signed a wall filled with stories about what brought them there.

Some were there for friends.

Jackie Novas from Puerto Rico said, "I'm running for my friend Sonya Mar, also from San Juan and she's battling cancer."

Some have won their own battle with cancer, like Donald Miller from Methuen who says that inspired him to run.

Some just want to finish what they started in 2013.

"I was one of those individuals stopped around mile 26 or so," Henry Och said.

Some are running because of what happened last year.

"I would have never ran had I not seen the strength that they have," Spaulding Rehab massage therapist Karis Antokal said.

Antokal is a member of the Race for Rehab Team for Spaulding. As a massage therapist, several bombing survivors were her patients.

"Some of the patients can't wake up in the morning and put on a shoe, they have to put on a leg. They can't get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom without putting on their leg and I have the privilege to put two feet on the ground every single morning. This was something I knew I needed to do," she said.

Even though she's never done it before.

"Never run before November, had to train to run a mile," she said.

But she's Boston Strong just like everyone else that was at the Hynes Friday night.

"At the end of the day it's not about running anymore. It's about everybody coming together. It's the same as it was for Oklahoma City, 9/11, one step in front of the other and we all do it together," Oklahoma resident Chera Kimiko said.

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