For months, thousands of runners — including many from Maine — trained hard to run in one of the world’s marquee marathons in Boston, a race beset a year ago by unfathomable tragedy.

Monday, with the finish line in sight, with the runners seeing the yellow-and-blue banners in the distance on a street stuffed with spectators, all that hard work paid off.

“When you take that last turn, that’s really when it felt like, ‘Wow, I really am doing this,'” Christie Tebbets, of Lisbon said. “That last corner, you can see in the distance where you’re going, where it all ends, you just don’t have the words for it.

“This is what you train so long for, this is what you’ve waited to do,” Tebbets continued. “Sometimes, you get up and you don’t want to train, you don’t want to run, and you just imagine that finish line. Now seeing it, you think, ‘This is why we do this.’ And you get emotional. I don’t know if it’s completely sunk in yet, but I know it will.”

Tebbets traveled to Boston on Monday with a group of training partners from PR Racing, run by Lewiston’s Scott Brown.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” Tebbets said. “It was almost a perfect day. It was a bit warm, and for those of us who had been running and training in the cold all winter, it was a bit of a different feeling.”

After last year’s sudden end, runners who failed to finish were invited back. And there were several invitations extended to the families of the victims of the bombings, helping to create the largest field in the race’s history. More than 32,000 runners officially toed the line in Hopkinton.

“Here we are, almost the first ones there,” said Paula Rousseau, another member of the PR Racing group. “We were sitting on the tarp and it seemed like a time lapse. It started to fill up pretty quickly.”

“In the runners’ village, we got there really early,” Tebbets said, “but every time we looked up, there were literally thousands more people than the last time.”

The wave in which each runner started made a difference in how bottle-necked things got in the opening miles of the course.

“I caught up with Beryle (Martin) and Peter (Rearick) about two miles in,” Rousseau said. “It was so cramped and crowded, I tried to get out and move a bit more.”

Rousseau squeezed her way into open space and finished at 3:55.33. Tebbets found the going a bit easier early and crossed in 3:33.21.

“I was a little worried about the gridlock of runners because it was so crowded,” Tebbets said, “but I was never really off my pace.”

Ryan Metivier of Auburn was the top area finisher, clocking a time of 2:53.13. Greene’s Ryan Fitzsimons also broke three hours (2:57.01), while Steve McCarthy, also of Greene, just missed that threshold, crossing in 3:01.55.

Kristin Dacko of Bethel was the top area women’s finisher in 3:27.36.

Kelly Brown of Lewiston, Scott’s wife and recently announced as an inductee into the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame, had to drop out of the race due to an injury before the halfway mark.

No matter their times, runners had plenty to look at — and heard plenty of encouragement — along the route.

“It was definitely a higher pitch than last year,” Rousseau said. “It was exciting last year, but with all of the extra people, with all of the extra bells and whistles and props the people watching used, it was really fun.”

“There was not a spot on the course where there wasn’t a ton of people,” Tebbets added. “All that stuff you hear, about Heartbreak Hill, through Wellesley, it’s all true.”

The extra people and added cheering helped everyone along, ultimately carrying many finishers across the finish line on Boylston St.

“It was such a wonderful experience, so organized. It was fantastic,” Tebbets said.

“It was definitely one my highlights in running,” said Rousseau, who ran the race last year and finished 20 minutes before the first bomb went off. “And it was definitely worth going back.”

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