Boston Marathon: 36,000 runners, 36,000 reasons

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- After the deadly bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon, runners and spectators are expected to be out in record numbers at the 2014 run.

Around one million spectators are expected to show up to watch about 36,000 runners set to run; that's the second-largest field in the marathon's long history and 9,000 more than last year.

36,000 runners, 36,000 reasons for lacing up for the 2014 Boston Marathon. Perhaps, even more so after 2013.

"For the event to take place straight after it within a year is a statement that terrorism hasn't won," said Lukman Faily, Iraqi Ambassador to the United States.

Faily will be one of the thousands lacing up to run in the 2014 marathon.

The Ambassador knows the impact terrorism can have on a country, on a city, from daily bombings in Iraq to last year's marathon bombing in Boston.

"It was an innocent event," said Faily about the marathon. "It had nothing to do politics, it had nothing to do with foreign policy of United States, but in Iraq we have these bombings on daily basis."

While Faily says some areas of Iraq - like the economy - flourish today, the pace of progress for the nation's security is still slow.

It is a daily battle as shootings and bombings plague the country, claiming hundreds of lives a month.

"We need to fight this, we need to stand with each other, we need to appreciate each other and I think a marathon can provide a good platform for it," said Ambassador Faily.

Shelby Rombach of Leesburg is preparing for the same marathon, all while trying to outrun her own battle.

The 20-year-old James Madison University student has Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disorder that effects the lungs and their air capacity, among other things.

"There would be days when I'd finish a 5K and feel really good about it and then there would be days when I'd collapse," said Rombach. "[Cystic Fibrosis] was definitely a huge unpredictable variable."

Unwilling to slow down, she will run the marathon with a goal of raising money for another chronically ill child through the Make A Wish Foundation.

"How could I possibly give back?" Rombach asked herself, after the foundation granted her a wish several years ago by sending the Rombach family to Ireland. "When I was accepted to Boston, O was like, 'Yes,'" she said.

Along with 36,000 thousand others, all doing what moves them: running.

"Physically, it helps you to focus," said Faily.

"Running is such a liberating thing and it's kind of almost empowering to know, OK, I'm out here running and there are X amount of reasons why I shouldn't be able to do this but I can, so, why would I not?" asked Rombach.

Faily and Rombach may be running for different reasons but they are both running for something.

"We will not change our lives [because of terrorism], we may get annoyed with it but we will never change our life and we will stand with each other," said Faily.

"I think I'm just running because I can," said Rombach.


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