Boston Marathon runners who could not finish this year’s race due to the deadly bombings are being welcomed back next year.
Invitations went out to more than 5,000 people on Thursday including several Hawaii runners.
Kit Smith still gets chills knowing he was less than a mile from the finish line when the two bombs exploded.
“It’s something that will live in my memory forever,” Smith said.
Smith’s wife snapped a photo as he passed the 20-mile mark.
The 78-year-old runner says he was on pace to finish in four hours and 40 minutes when the blasts occurred.
More than 5,000 runners still on the streets of Boston were immediately pulled off the course.
“Race has been cancelled, two bombs went off at the finish I was absolutely stunned. I turned to somebody and said, ‘Right now, this is the biggest news story’ and of course it was,” Smith said.
Smith didn’t know the extent of the tragedy, but his gut told him it was severe.
“You got to believe that there’ve been fatalities. People lost limbs and were seriously injured, so it was more than just be shaken psychological, it was physical harm to awful lot of people,” Smith said.
On Thursday, the Boston Athletic Association announced that the 5,633 runners who passed the halfway checkpoint, but did not cross the finish line, will be given entry to next year’s race.
Seven of those invitations went to Hawaii runners including Smith.
“Just this morning in my email was a message that said anybody who was still on the course, had finished half, could come next year and be automatically entered,” Smith said.
KHON2′s Ron Mizutani: “It’s part of the healing process?”
Kit Smith: “Oh, I think so, yeah. They couldn’t really have done more than that realistically, so I think it was very wise and obviously they took some time to talk about it and work it out. And I think they did very well, so I’m very happy with what they did.”
The invited runners will be required to pay an entry fee, which has yet to be determined.
No decision has been made on whether the field will expand to include an expected influx of runners who say they want to run next year to support the race and the city of Boston.
Smith says he’s returning.
“I’m definitely going to return next year. Absolutely going to return,” Smith said.
It’s his way of supporting Boston and moving forward.
“We need to keep living,” Smith said.