Don Oswalt, 50, salesman at Nelson Printing, lives in West Ashley

Did you plan to run Boston before last year's events or as a result of last year's event?

Yes, before last year's events. I qualified at Kiawah in 2012 and was devastated as we all were to hear and see what happened in Boston last year.

How long have you dreamed of running Boston?

The 2010 Marine Corps marathon was my first one and really did not even think about Boston until the end of 2011. I did not think I was fast enough to qualify but, was able to at the 2012 Kiawah Marathon. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be a part of this special event this year.

How long have you been running and how/why did you get started? I

have only been running for the past 7 years. I wanted to make some personal changes in my life and running was a great way to release tension and give me focus. I have caught the running and the triathlon bug for sure. I completed my first Ironman last November and so thrilled to be running Boston!

Sarah Smith, 26, project manager and Air Force officer, lives in North Charleston.

Did you plan to run Boston before last year's events or as a result of last year's event?

Absolutely, I ran the Charleston marathon in January 2013 to qualify and had planned to do Boston-it has been a dream of mine for quite a while and I was determined to make that dream come true. The unfortunate event at Boston last year only solidified my desire to compete in the race and has driven me to train to my best abilities.

How long have you dreamed of running Boston?

I've dreamed of running Boston since I was a kid and started competitive running-at the time, I equated Boston to the Olympics and always thought it would be just a dream.

How long have you been running and how/why did you get started?

I've been competitively running since about age 11. I became interested in running when I was 6 years old. My gym teacher was also the high school track coach and saw my potential at an early age. He would always ask me: "you're going to come run for me when you get in middle school, right?" Of course my answer was always YES! So when I was old enough to join the high school team in 7th grade, I signed up. I was a natural runner and came in second place at my first race, earning me the team nickname of "little track star." I've been hooked ever since and carried my passion though college and grad school before "graduating" to other distances like the half and full marathon.

What are your emotions heading into this long-anticipated weekend? Is the media coverage adding any extra nervousness? Also, what went through your mind yesterday when the kook placed the backpack at the finish line?

I am beyond thrilled to be running Boston this year. It's literally a dream come true for me in so many ways. I've learned so much about myself through training for the marathon distance, and I can't wait to see what I take away from the Boston experience, especially with the emotion and energy that this year's race contains. It's very surreal.

I've gotten more excited as the media has amped it up, and now I'm finding that inner peace that I get before a big race-I'm confident and ready to live my dream.

Regarding the backpack incident earlier this week, I was really just ticked off-it's frustrating to see that someone would act in such a way on such a sad day, all for their 5 minutes of fame. I'm even more determined to "take back our race" with the 36,000 other runners this year!

Photos courtesy of my family at the Charleston Marathon last year- I've done some other short distance races but didn't have any good photos.

Matthew Moldenhauer, 30, land resource manager and trails planner for Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, lives in West Ashley

Did you plan to run Boston before last year's events or as a result of last year's event?

Was planning to run. Had qualified in Houston last January. My sister-in-law ran last year, finishing about 30 minutes before the first bomb went off. My brother was a spectator. Thankfully they were both on the T by the time the first bomb went off. But none of that phased my interest in running Boston. "Boston Strong" captures it pretty well. Somewhere deep, down inside of us all, there's something distinctly American about wanting to spite our enemies.

How long have you dreamed of running Boston?

It never entered my mind until I ran a 3:23 at the Austin Marathon. Back then the qualifying time for my AG was 3:10. Then the BAC changed it to 3:05, so Boston seemed even more distant.

My dad has a signed photo of him with Bill Rodgers, from about 30 years ago. I would see it hanging in a frame on the wall in my parent's house as a kid.right next to a photo from my dad's first marathon. It never meant anything until I started running seriously, and got my subscription to Runner's World Magazine. Of course, I learned that Bill Rodgers is not only a running legend.and especially known for his four wins at Boston. That photo of my dad with Bill was taken right around the peak of his career. Bill was kind enough to take another photo with my dad and I after the bridge run this year. Funny how things come full circle sometimes.

Bill Rowell, 58, electrical engineer, lives in Mount Pleasant

Did you plan to run Boston before last year's events or as a result of last year's event?

As a result. This will be my 3rd Boston. Ran the 1st after qualifying with my very 1st marathon. Just wanted to go to Boston and take in the full experience - with no real time goal in mind, other than to qualify again (which I luckily did by 4 minutes). My 2nd Boston, last year, was to be my last and I wanted to push myself and see how quickly I could finish. I qualified by 15 minutes and had been back at the hotel for over an hour when the bombs went off. Following the tragedy and the fact that I qualified there again - I decided that I needed to return this year as a tribute to all of those who have been affected and to show my support for the running world.

How long have you dreamed of running Boston?

I never really dreamed about doing any marathon, in fact I never really had a desire to run a full marathon. However, like every other runner, I was always impressed by the history and prestige of Boston. When I realized that I qualified for Boston at my 1st marathon (by more than 25 minutes), I knew that I had to go and was almost angry with myself for now having to run another marathon!

How long have you been running and how/why did you get started?

I've been running all of my life and my 1st memory of organized running was way back in elementary school when we had to do the 600-yadr run/walk for the President's Physical Fitness Testing. Up and back on the football field three times. I've just kept it up ever since. I was a slow 880 runner in high school and CC in college. I didn't start road racing until I was 31, at the invitation of a co-worker, I was hooked then.

What are your emotions heading into this long-anticipated weekend? Is the media coverage adding any extra nervousness? Also, what went through your mind yesterday when the kook placed the backpack at the finish line?

For the entire past year I had merely planned to return to Boston and once again soak-in the whole race weekend experience with no real goal time again - other than to not go any slower than my qualifying time. With all the recent media and witnessing the amazing accomplishments that several of the survivors have achieved - I feel the pangs of really going out and pushing myself to do my best . for them. I'm still not sure what Monday will bring - but we'll see!