NEW ORLEANS -- This spring runners from across the metro area will return to Boston to conquer a 26.2 mile elite race.
Marathons test a person's physical endurance, but in April, the Boston Marathon will test many athletes emotional resolve.
WWL-TV's Tania Dall tracked down three Louisiana runners gearing up to go back to Boston after experiencing the horrific bombings firsthand.
"Normally the finish line at a marathon is the most incredible area. People on the ground hugging, kissing," Leo Verde said. "There wasn't a soul."
Verde had just rounded the corner at the Boston Marathon and was just minutes within reaching his four-hour goal.
Then the bombs went off.
"I knew it was terrorism," Verde said. "I felt the heat, the smoke."
Uncanny silence followed by commotion is how Verde described to a CNN reporter, the scene that quickly unfolded.
"People were like screaming or crying. I saw people without limbs. There was no sounds you know," Verde said on camera, just hours after the bombing.
"It went from celebration to a war zone. It was unbelievable. It was just sad. I was worried about him," said Laure Stoma.
The Baton Rouge couple run competitively together. However, on this tragic day, Verde's fiance Laure was waiting at the finish line and holding two signs.
"I fell and I had a couple who picked me up, some volunteers were trying to take me away. I said, I can't go. He's out there. I have to wait for him," said Stoma, "It was the longest 4 minutes of my life. The not knowing."
'A Good Addiction'
"Maybe it's an addiction. I'm not sure? But it's a good addiction," Felicia Guidry said. "I can't imagine never running."
The Houma nurse used to run long distances without music, but over the years she's developed a new habit: Pandora.
You can see some of Guidry's favorite tracks to listen to on the right.
This spring, Guidry will be running her next Boston Marathon bolstered by her favorite tunes and a special keepsake. She will be wearing a mother of pearl rosary that belonged to her late mother wrapped tightly around her wrist.
"I go back and forth. I want to run it but I'm still anxious, nervous. I'm still scared," said Guidry, who now more than ever is grateful to still have her legs.
She listened strapped in an ambulance as two blasts rocked the Boston Marathon finish line. Guidry had broken her arm in the race and couldn't do what she does best -- help.
"People started coming to the ambulance asking for tourniquets and anything they could use as a tourniquet, and then I realized what had happened," Guidry said.
A few yards away from her location, pandemonium was unfolding. Guidry remembers the carnage.
"I just kind of sat there," Guidry said. "I was kind of in shock."
Gearing up for Boston
"We're already planning for the next one, although we're aching and sore," said Verde of his desire to race professionally.
The duo just returned from racing in the New York Marathon.
With Boston just six months away, these three runners feel an obligation to return and reclaim what was taken.
"For me, it's like I have unfinished business. You know, there's a sense of anger," said Verde.
The race isn't just about achieving personal goals, but also a chance to pay homage to those whose lives were forever changed in seconds.
"I kind of felt guilt even with the people that go so injured at Boston. Most of them lost their limbs, yet I still have mine. Makes you realize what's important. It's right now. This moment," Guidry said.
The Boston Athletic Association website says currently 90 runners from Louisiana are entered to run the marathon in April.
Approximately 35 of those runners are from the metro area.
Eyewitness News plans on following Guidry, Stoma and Verde's progress as they train through the winter. We hope to follow them to Boston this spring.