TODAY | April 20, 2014
>>> thousands of runners were close to the finish line when those bombs went off last year. many of them will be back running again this year. they say they don't want to finish the race just for themselves. they are doing it for boston , too. to prove that nothing can stop them. nothing can stop the spirit of this race. ron mott is also in boston this morning. he joins us now. ron, good morning.
>> reporter: hi there, erica. good morning to you. this is the 118th boston marathon . it's probably safe to say this has been the most painful, longest year between marathons in histories. tomorrow is race day, finally. a crowded field of about 36,000 runners from the world's elite to first timers is eager for ready, set, go.
>> and you're off.
>> reporter: on saturday, a more casual pace. a 5-k race that drew more than 10,000 runners. a tribute walk that brought out bombing survivors and wounded warriors moving in solidarity.
>> a bunch of us that were injured over in iraq and afghanistan felt compelled to reach out to the people here and let them know that life is going to continue.
>> reporter: having him here is like having family here. he's been a huge part of our recovery.
>> reporter: for many, monday's marathon is the chance to finish what was started a year ago.
>> i was still on the course. i wasn't able to finish. i made it to mile 25 where they stopped us. so i'm back this year to cross that finish line .
>> reporter: ethiopian la lisa disisa is back to defend his title from 2013 . on the women's side, rita jeptoo gets to wear bib f-1 as the female champion. no matter who wins the prize in both divisions, many consider the city of boston the ultimate victor a year after tragedy.
>> i want to thank you for your encouragement, your resilience, your strength. for all the things you do, for all the different folks in front of me, whether you're first responders, survivors, thank you very much for making the city so strong.
>> reporter: now, tomorrow is patriots day across the commonwealth of massachusetts . that means that state offices are closed. a lot of schools are closed as well. we're expecting a huge crowd. a million plus people lining the race route cheering on these runners, erica.