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Monday, April 21, 2014
Corcoran family finally crosses finish line

By Jack McCluskey

BOSTON -- Though their lives haven't been remotely the same since that fateful day just more than a year ago, Sydney and Celeste Corcoran won't let their new realities slow them down.

They choose to live.

So though Sydney -- who has that phrase tattooed on her right arm -- was gravely injured and Celeste lost both legs in one of the blasts, the mother-daughter duo returned to Boylston Street on Monday for the 2014 Boston Marathon. And as the runners streamed down the blacktop, sun shining down long after the elites were in, Celeste took a seat on a folding chair volunteers set up for her just behind the barriers at the intersection of Boylston and Exeter.

With help from her daughter, Celeste took off her walking prostheses and put on her running blades. And when the person the Corcorans were at the 2013 marathon to see -- Celeste's sister, Carmen Acabbo -- came running down the homestretch, they joined her on the course.

Boston Marathon
Carmen Acabbo, Sydney Corcoran and Celeste Corcoran receive their marathon medals.
Hand-in-hand-in-hand, Carmen on Celeste's right and Sydney on her left, the trio ran the final block and crossed the finish line.

"We choose to live. We got hurt, we got hurt really bad but ... everybody's got something," Celeste said.

"The whole thing is unbelievable. The Boston Marathon is unbelievable," Acabbo said of what it felt like to run the final stretch with her sister. "When I wake up tomorrow, nobody is gonna cheer for me for 26.2 miles. The support out there was unbelievable. I had some time by myself and I thought about a lot of what we've been through this year, and it was a nice closure."

When she was at her lowest during Monday's race, Acabbo said she had an easy source of inspiration.

"When it got tough for me, I thought of these guys, to be honest," she said. "I thought of the first time Ces wore her prosthetics. I thought of seeing her run for the first time. I thought of all the stuff that Sydney's gone through over the year. I mean, we've been through so much."

For Sydney and Celeste, crossing that blue-and-yellow line gave them a sense of completion.

"We got closure from that day, because that's what we missed last year," Sydney said. "We finally got to do it this year."

Though it doesn't erase the terrible memories of last year, or fix the uncertain and incredibly complicated future, Monday helped.

"I was just kinda concentrating on walking on my legs, and not falling," Celeste said with a laugh of her day at the marathon. "I just couldn't wait to get to be where I could meet up with [Acabbo], and my daughter and I could do this together. It was a good step for the three of us.

"Our family's been through a lot. And to think last year where we, I would never, ever, ever have thought that we'd be where we're standing today."

"It's unbelievable," Acabbo added.

As they stood on Boylston Street, just past the Central Library, a Boston Athletic Association official gave them their hard-earned reward: a finisher's medal for each of them.

"The negative power is officially, in my mind, gone from this spot," Celeste said. "Everybody, everybody, that participated today, that was here today, it's all so positive. Those people -- terrorists, people that hate -- never, ever, ever win."

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.