Local runners to return to Boston for 'unfinished business'

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Survivors of the deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon came together Tuesday to remember the tragedy one year later.

Some of those running in last year’s race were from Charlotte, and now many of them are headed back for next week’s race with their eyes on much more than just the finish line.

Mark Ulrich is getting everything ready to make a return to Boston.

He was already at his hotel about a block away from the finish line when the bombs went off.

“We actually heard the explosions,” Ulrich said. “Obviously (we) didn’t assume it was a bomb. We just thought it was a transformer or a pipe burst or something.”

One year later, Ulrich is determined to go back and run the race again.

SLIDESHOW: Explosions at Boston Marathon

“After all the events of last year, I think all of the runners said, ‘We need to go back. We need to show strength in running, in Boston, in our country that we can’t use this as a reason to be scared,’” Ulrich said.

The same is true for Nicole Gross from Charlotte who was injured in the bombing while waiting for her mother to cross the finish line.

When Channel 9 anchor Blair Miller first met Gross in the days following the blast, she was recovering in a Boston hospital, learning to walk again.

Even then she was eyeing a comeback.

Gross and her husband Michael are headed back to Boston and will once again be there to cheer on her mother.

It’s much more than just a race to the finish for the thousands of runners headed back for unfinished business.

“When you cross the finish line, you're going to be 50 feet from where the bombs went off so there's the natural mixed emotions of running a race that are always powerful but this year, much much more powerful,” said Ulrich.

For complete coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings anniversary, visit our special section here.