Jan Workinger had no intention of going back to Boston to run the marathon this year.

It wasn't last year's bombing that left three dead and injured 264 others that was going to keep him away.

Rather, the 56-year-old Springettsbury Township man said he likes to run other marathons and the cost — upwards of $1,000 — for the four-day trip to the New England city had him thinking of skipping it this year.

But in the end, the bombing was partly the reason Workinger is heading back to run in his second Boston Marathon.

"You can't let the actions of two people control your life," he said.

Not the last: The story is similar to that of 55-year-old York Township runner John Katora.

A crowd gathers at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot Saturday before the one-year anniversary of the
A crowd gathers at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot Saturday before the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. York runners invited to this year's event are ready to get on the course. (Michael Dwyer — The Associated Press)

The 2013 Boston Marathon was to be his last, but the bombing spurred him to qualify for a second time to run the prestigious race.

"You feel like you need to go back and finish it the right way," he said. "Once that (bombing) happened, I had to do it again."

Workinger and Katora are two of more than 20 York County runners who will head to Boston for the Monday, April 21, marathon. They will join 36,000 other runners from around the world, according to the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the event.

Safety measures: Workinger said safety measures include banning bags along the route and at the start and finish lines. Runners will, however, be given clear bags to store a change of clothing, which can be left at the finish line.

"The security is extremely high," he said. "They have taken every measure to make this the safest race as possible."

Workinger was inspired to run his second race in Boston after his friend, Mike Ravegum, qualified for it for the first time.

"I don't think there's anything to worry about this year, by any means," said Ravegum, 41, of Springettsbury Township. "When you're fortunate enough to qualify, it's almost like when you see a $10 bill lying on the ground — you've just got to pick it up."

Jan Workinger of York, wearing bib #692, runs in the Rehoboth Beach Marathon at mile 25. Photo provided by Clay Shaw, Sports/35 Photography.
Jan Workinger of York, wearing bib #692, runs in the Rehoboth Beach Marathon at mile 25. Photo provided by Clay Shaw, Sports/35 Photography.

'Very prestigious': Ravegum said he was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon after significantly reducing his running times.

"It's very, very prestigious," he said of the race, citing its history and the difficulty many runners have in qualifying for it.

Workinger was about a block away when the two bombs exploded, tearing through a crowd near the finish line.

"I'll always remember that for the rest my life," he said.

Katora had just passed the area 10 minutes before the bombs went off.

Human spirit: He said he believes the attack was meant to instill fear in people, but the "human spirit thwarted that effort."

And that can be seen one year later, Workinger said.

Some runners trained especially hard to qualify for the chance to run in Boston this year, he said.

One of those runners is 67-year-old Les Bell of York, who will be running the marathon for a fifth time. Bell finished the marathon last year in 3 hours, 54 minutes and 23 seconds, and was a block away from where the bombs went off.

"I saw the smoke and everything," Bell said. "It was terrible."

Showing respect: Bell qualified for the marathon with last year's race time and trained outdoors all winter, often averaging 45 to 50 miles per week.

"I'm probably in better shape than I ever was," Bell said. "I'm going to give it all I've got. I'm doing it to show respect for those victims."

Based on his running times in the past months, Bell said he expects to finish the race in 3 hours and 35 to 40 minutes, at least 15 minutes faster than his finishing time last year.

And even if something happens and the race doesn't go as smoothly as he's trained for, Bell said he's determined to finish, no matter what.

"I'm going to throw my heart right down," he said. "When I'm running in that marathon and I feel pain, I'm going to say, 'Hey, at least I have both my legs.'"


York runners ready for Boston

About 20 runners from the York area are preparing to participate in Marathon Monday in Boston next week. Some are focusing on improving their race times, but several others are racing to enjoy the atmosphere.

Runners said they hope to take in the sights of Boston as they run, enjoy the crowds lining the 26.2-mile course and soak up the experience of running the prestigious race. Below are the reactions of a few runners and their thoughts on the upcoming marathon.

"I try to explain to people what it's like to be there. It is just a special place. Whether you run it or not, it is a bucket list thing to do."

- Anne Helsabeck, 47, of York Township, who will be running the marathon for the fourth time.

"The best way I can show support for the race is to actually run it."

- Greg Cauller, 54, of Springettsbury Township, who is running the marathon for the first time as a way to support the race after last year's bombing.

"I finished the race and realized I hadn't really appreciated how special Boston is. ... This year I am committed to taking all of that in. It's important that this comes back even stronger than it was before."

- Fred Botterbusch, 57, of York Township, who ran in Boston eight years ago and qualified last year.

"Boston is, in the running mentality, it's the Super Bowl of running."

- Armand Meyer, 66, of Springettsbury Township, who ran the marathon in the 1980s and is returning for the first time since then.

Blood drive Tuesday in York to honor Boston

The York Road Runners Club and the American Red Cross are partnering for a blood drive Tuesday to honor victims in the Boston Marathon bombing last year.

The Boston Strong Memorial Blood Drive also will be an opportunity for people from York to sign a prayer canvas, a banner where donors, volunteers and others can write or paint a message of hope and unity in the colors red, white and blue.

"Each person can write a sentimental message to the victims and the people of Boston," said Steve Mavica, spokesman for the American Red Cross.

The blood drive and canvas signing will take place from 2 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort in the Link Room, 2700 Mount Rose Ave.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com. Staff writers Liz Evans Scolforo and Nikelle Snader contributed to this report.