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Almost two years ago, many marathon runners experienced an event that would change their lives forever. On April 15, 2013 the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. Of the 26,839 runners who began the race, only 17,600 were able to cross the finish line that day. Between spectators, runners, and people passing by, three people were killed and over 260 people were hurt.
Texan marathon runner, Rebekah Gregory, was one of the many runners injured. Gregory was the bombing survivor who wrote a public letter to the bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, after testifying against him in court.
Recently, Gregory ran the UNESCO Cities Marathon in northern Italy as a special invitee, her first marathon since the amputation of her left leg after the bombing. Now running with a new prosthetic leg, the 27-year-old was invited to the race by @uxilia, a nonprofit humanitarian organization.
According to a comment she gave La Gazzetta dello Sport, she knew that she would be unable to run the entire marathon, 26.2 miles.
The day after her first race back, she posted a picture on Instagram with the caption, “Yesterday I ran in my first race since the bombing and even though I couldn’t get through the whole thing, the scenery of Italian countryside and the feeling of crossing the finish line….was absolutely incredible. (Next time I get blown up the terrorists should do a better job. They may have taken my leg but they have given me an insane amount of determination in its place.)”
She then spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport about her goal, “I gave myself the target of at least cross the finish line, because it means so much for me. It is above all a stage of normality, the first towards a dream, not for revenge or to challenge fate, rather….running is my way to show people who have tried to destroy me and that hurt me have only made me stronger. My life is returning.”
Prior to the race Gregory was given the chance to meet a Pakistani woman who was attacked with acid by a man she refused to marry, disfiguring her face. On a Facebook post Gregory wrote, “We are given reminders every day that it is time to take action. Today, mine was a beautiful woman from Pakistan. Face of a victim….but heart of a survivor. This woman is my new hero.”
To many people throughout the country, and even the world, Gregory quickly has become an inspiration.