Runners Justin Krebs and Christine Geiselman of Spring Garden Township got engaged at the 2013 Boston Marathon. This year, Krebs will run the marathon
Runners Justin Krebs and Christine Geiselman of Spring Garden Township got engaged at the 2013 Boston Marathon. This year, Krebs will run the marathon Monday and Geiselman will wait for him near the finish. In a video at www.yorkdispatch.com, Geiselman talks about the couple's experience of the race and the bombing and their reasons for returning to Boston. (Bil Bowden photo)

Memories of the 2013 Boston Marathon flow bittersweet after a celebration turned tragic.

First, there was Justin Krebs pulling a ring from the pocket of his jacket.

"I know you know this is coming, but will you marry me?" he asked, and he and Christine Geiselman embraced.

The two people who each thought they'd never find "the one" ended up finding each other, to the soundtrack of his and hers running shoes hitting pavement.

They finished the 26-mile race, their first marathon together, running side by side.

"You couldn't have asked for a better day," said 30-year-old Geiselman, who lives with Krebs in Spring Garden Township. "But then I vividly remember hearing the bombs ... and just getting out of there, not knowing what was going on."

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The Yorkers finished the race minutes before the bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260. They narrowly missed being within the blast zones that marred their engagement.

The day was a mix of congratulations and condolences, and still is as the couple tries to reconcile their happiness with a tragedy that shook their community of avid runners.

"Every time you think about it, you're just flooded with emotions," she said. "We want to try to remember the good that happened, too. It was such an emotional day."

The couple is returning to the race this year, but Krebs will be carrying the torch for both; Geiselman's registered nursing school program has cut into her training time. For 39-year-old Krebs, this year is about celebrating the positive and restoring the norm.

"I think Boston is going to be special any year now just because of getting engaged," he said. "And I think deep down I want to go back and show support to everyone ... to show the unity that the running community is still strong and something like that won't affect them."

The purpose of the race is supposed to be the running, but Krebs can't seem to hold that singular focus without feeling guilty.

VIDEO AS CLAY SHAW TALKS ABOUT BOSTON - Clay Shaw of Manchester Township took this photograph of runners during the 2013 Boston Marathon. A professional
VIDEO AS CLAY SHAW TALKS ABOUT BOSTON - Clay Shaw of Manchester Township took this photograph of runners during the 2013 Boston Marathon. A professional photographer who specializes in road races, Shaw has run in past Boston Marathons and when not running has photographed the races. In a video at www.yorkdispatch.com, he talks about his experience shooting photos about a mile from the finish line last year and returning to the hotel where the working media were set up just prior to the bombing. He spent hours sequestered in the hotel. (Clay Shaw — Sports 35 Photography)

"I still ... I don't know ... I feel like it's selfish, but I have goals that I want to run, and I haven't run anywhere close to what I think I can do," he said.

Geiselman will be waiting for Krebs at the finish line, near last year's blast sites. This year's post-race celebration will replace memories of last year's frantic exodus from the city, during which a television screen glimpsed through a restaurant window confirmed Geiselman's fears.

Seeing a news report, she broke down.

"I still had my medal around my neck, and some random person just came up and started hugging me," she said.

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The date has been set for June 21, and the couple brought together by running will theme their wedding around the sport and their support of Boston.

Their wedding stationery features race bibs, and Krebs and his groomsmen will be wearing running shoes.

The Boston Marathon's trademark blue and yellow are the official colors.

The event is themed Christine and Justin's Inaugural Life Marathon.

— Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.