Boston Marathon a symbol of strength, unity and yes, endurance

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(CNN) — People around the world are watching Monday’s Boston Marathon to see the results and celebrate the winners. Caroline Rotich of Kenya won the women’s division, and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia took the men’s.

Marcel Hug of Switzerland and American Tatyana McFadden won the wheelchair divisions.

But to many more spectators, the excitement is for what the event represents.

“The marathon is now a symbol of unity, strength, and freedom. We will continue to get out and enjoy our freedoms, not hide,” a teacher wrote to CNN on Twitter.

Across social media, people celebrate the race, two years after a double bombing at the finish line killed three people and injured at least 264.

This year, the event comes less than two weeks after a jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 charges. Authorities say he co-conspired with his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in an encounter with police two days after the bombing.

Since the verdict, survivor Meri Daniel, who lost her leg in the bombing, feels like “a new me,” she said.

“I feel so energetic, vitalized. I’m ready to take on the world, actually,” she told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.

Tsarnaev could face the death penalty.

“I really don’t feel strongly one way or the other” about which punishment he gets, says fellow survivor Heather Abbott.

“Regardless of what happens, you know, I’m not going to get my leg back, and the people who lost their loved ones aren’t going to get those people back either. … I think it will be nice to be able to move on once it’s finished.”

Both Daniel and Abbott planned to cheer on the runners Monday.

Among those killed in the 2013 double bombing was 8-year-old Martin Richard.

On Monday, his former teacher ran the marathon in his memory for the second year in a row.

“I had to run,” said Nikolas Franks, who is now part of a foundation in the boy’s memory.

“The emotional sort of counseling that I went through, the therapy just in running, it was important for me,” he told CNN affiliate WHDH.

Franks also taught Martin’s sister, who lost her leg in the attack.

“The whole family — they’re really amazing people,” he said. “And it’s interesting that he’s (Martin’s) become sort of a beacon of peace because he was a beacon of peace in our classroom.”

CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem says that as the “runners begin and, hopefully, finish their exhausting run Monday, the lingering memories of the 2013 marathon blasts will be seen and felt in all sorts of ways.”

In a column for CNN.com, she wrote that the trial’s “simplicity not only vindicated the capacity of our constitutional system to handle these cases, but also took the mythology (maybe even the romanticism) of terrorism out of the case. It rendered Tsarnaev a common criminal. And that was a statement worth making.”

Some north Alabama runners are in the Boston Marathon today. WHNT News 19 wishes them luck!