CHICAGO — There was no need to speed up to approach a personal record as she made the iconic final turn at the end of one of the world’s greatest road races.

Mary Anne Pell was going to take it all in on Boylston Street in 2023.

“I actually didn’t speed up,” said the experienced marathoner from Naperville as she stared down the final stretch of the Boston Marathon. “I actually slowed down and tried to take it all in.”

She’s done that before, completing the 26.2-mile race a few times during her career which includes 35 marathons. But this was so much different for Pell as she approached the yellow and blue finish line that is a dream for many runners to cross.

Ten years earlier, she didn’t have the opportunity to reach this point.

Mary Anne Pell in the 2013 Boston Marathon, wearing a purple shirt with a white hat.

She was under a mile away from completing the race on April 15, 2013, arriving at a place referred to as “Cannoli Corner.” While in good health and good spirits, she wouldn’t get to the chance reach Boylston Street.

“I had just taken the Cannoli handoff and that’s when the bombs exploded,” said Pell. “Because we were so close, we knew exactly what had happened.”

That was the domestic terrorist attack in which two pressure-cooker bombs were set off by   Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev on Boylston Street. Three people were killed and 281 injured in an act that shook one of New England’s most beloved events.

“It was just horrible,” said Pell of the scene she saw when she eventually made her way to the vicinity of the bombing to pick up her bag which she’d had stored at the start line in Hopkinton.

Yet it didn’t deter her from returning to the event, running five-straight Boston Marathons after that, but she only volunteered in 2019 and would have in 2020, had it not been canceled by the pandemic.

Pell, however, got the itch to run it again as she approached the ten-year anniversary along with her 60th birthday. The catch was she wanted to find a charity that had a connection to 2013.

She found one – concerning someone who was a thousand yards away from here nearly a decade earlier.

Mary Anne Pell and Rebekah Gregory, who lost her leg in the Boston Marathon, at the 127th running of the race in April 2023.

Rebekah Gregory was within feet of the first bomb that went off in the shadow of the finish line, with her then five-year-old son Noah sitting by her feet. While her legs shielded him from the blast, Gregory suffered significant injuries to her left leg, eventually leading to its amputation.

She along with Noah suffered from PTSD after the bombing, and after receiving treatments for it decided to help others to cope as well. So Gregory founded “Rebekah’s Angels” in 2018 to raise money for children who suffer from PTSD.

“I want our family to just be a symbol that there is healing after trauma, that you can go on and have a beautiful life, despite the terrible things that happen,” said Gregory. “The reason that our foundation is what it is today is because of all of the support we receive.”

Pell had her foundation, and after being accepted by Rebekah’s Angels to run the event, she began training and raised money on her website for the foundation. In the middle of April, she was ready for the tenth anniversary race, and all the emotion that comes with it.

Mary Anne Pell during the 2023 Boston Marathon

Every step of the event was emotional on the tenth anniversary of the bombing, from the start of the weekend to the finish.

“I was reading a book on the plane, and I started crying,” said Pell who arrived on Friday to attend the expo and meet Gregory for the first time.

In keeping with a tradition she started in 2014, she ran the Boston Athletic Association 5K on Saturday, which was on the actual ten-year anniversary of the bombing.

“They had honor guards standing at both of the (bombing) sites, solemnly standing there, and that…I just started crying,” said Pell.

It would stay that way through the race on Monday from the first mile all the way to the last, where her road had ended ten years ago.

“The whole mile was just very, very emotional along the way,” said Pell. “I actually almost stopped and hugged a cop, one of the police officers – but I thought that might not be the best idea – right where we were stopped because it was so emotional. They were thanking people along the way.”

Pell crossed the finish line shortly after that, completing an emotional training session, a weekend in Boston, and ten years since the bombing that was so close.

“It was extremely emotional, it was also very healing,” said Pell of the race. “It was very tearful, it was very loving. There’s nothing like Boston, it’s a magical experience, and this kinda brought the magic back that was stolen in 2013.”

WGN News Now’s Larry Hawley featured Pell and Gregory’s charity on the tenth anniversary of the bombing in this “Friday Feature” on WGN News Now. You can watch that story in the video above.