After I ran my first marathon in Duluth in 2008, I dreamed of making it to the Boston Marathon.

My love of distance running began during my early college years after graduating from Blaine in 2005.

When I was accepted to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge to run the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, I had no idea what the journey I was embarking on held in store for me as I chased down my dream.

The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge is an organization that raises money to directly fund innovative cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston (every dollar raised goes directly towards research).

With both of my parents being cancer survivors and knowing far too many others who have been affected in some way by cancer, I wanted to make a difference and to help bring us closer to a cure.

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On the way to the starting line last April, I felt the hardest part of my race day challenges had been overcome with my fundraising goals being met after raising over $5,000 for the program.

Running a marathon seemed like a trivial battle to overcome compared to what the people I was running in honor of had been through in their battles with cancer.

Along with more than 500 other challenge runners, I was ready to make the 26.2 mile journey to Boston as we celebrated our accomplishment of raising over $4 million as a team.

The energy on the course was indescribable, the spectators had more spirit than I had ever experienced at any other marathon.

The cheers of "Go Sarah!" and "Way to go Dana-Farber!" filled my ears and kept my legs pushing forward.

I felt invincible and was having the time of my life.

Little did I know that one of the best days of my life was about to turn into one of the worst.

I was stopped at about mile 25 when a police officer told us about the tragic events near the finish and that the race was over.

We all stood in shock trying to comprehend what the officer was saying. He said they were inspecting a suspicious package not far in front of us.

Several runners around me dropped to the ground in tears. Some were angry and others, like me, stood in shock unsure of what to do next.

I am preparing to return to the starting line on April 21 and finish the journey I began.

We will all be running with the victims of last year's tragedy in our hearts as we make the trek from Hopkinton to Boston.

Boston has pulled together to become an even stronger city throughout all of this and I am hoping to have the support of all of you in Minnesota as I cross that finish line. Together, we are all "Boston Strong." We can make a difference and stride towards the ultimate finish line - a world without cancer.

Column written by

Sarah Herschberger (Blaine '05)

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