(NECN: Jack Thurston, Burlington, Vt.) - Kristin Lundy's dream of completing her first Boston Marathon was shattered when the twin bombs stopped her in her tracks less than a half-mile before the finish line.
"I was really confused," Lundy remembered, describing the frenzy when race officials put up a barricade to stop runners from heading in the direction of the blast site. "I just knew something was really bad."
While heartbroken for the victims and disappointed that such a great day was attacked, the lab worker at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt. told New England Cable News that evil did not win that day. "I believe the motive was to establish fear and anger, and the amazing qualities that I saw ever since it happened up until now are the exact opposite of that," Lundy said.
Now, that kindness and compassion Lundy said she has seen since the explosions continues with a gesture from RunVermont. "The running community in general is very supportive," said Leandre Waldo-Johnson of RunVermont.
RunVermont puts on New England's second-largest marathon, the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and relay in Burlington. The organization announced Wednesday that the Memorial Day weekend tradition will give 150 marathon slots free to people whose Boston Marathon runs were cut short. The registration fee would normally be $99 if those runners were to sign up before the end of April, and $115 if they registered in May, according to the RunVermont website.
About 5,000 runners were denied the chance to finish the Boston Marathon after the explosions. Waldo-Johnson said participants interested in running the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon can register at this website, using the code "BOSTONSTRONG" to qualify for the chance at the free spaces.
"We're really hoping this is part of the beginning of the healing process for people who weren't able to finish Boston," Waldo-Johnson said. "We would love those people to have the opportunity to cross our finish line."
Vermont City Marathon participants and volunteers will also be asked to wear blue "Boston Strong" ribbons, Waldo-Johnson said. They will be provided in pamphlets runners pick up before the race. RunVermont is investigating the possibility of selling additional blue ribbons to spectators to raise money for The One Fund, which aims to help the people most affected by the attacks on Boston.
Waldo-Johnson said participants and spectators will also observe a moment of silence immediately before the May 26 race. DJs are expected to play the Neil Diamond song "Sweet Caroline," which is widely identified with Boston sporting events, in a show of solidarity with the city, as well.
Kristin Lundy's Boston Marathon preparations included raising $6,000 for the Dick Beardsley Foundation, which works to educate youth about chemical dependency. She told NECN she will try to participate in the Boston Marathon next year. "I would love to," Lundy said.
Lundy has signed up for several other marathons over the next few weeks, and said in her training since the sport was attacked, she is beginning to find happiness again. "It felt great," she beamed, describing a recent run.
In addition to RunVermont's gesture for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, at least one other New England marathon has offered free runs to people unable to finish the Boston Marathon because of the bombings. The 3-year-old Shires of Vermont Marathon, which runs from Bennington to Manchester, says on its website that it will waive the $80 registration fee for runners who could not finish in Boston.