PORTLAND - As runners checked in for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon at Portland's Expo Center Friday, many had Boston on their minds.

Not concerned. We have to go out, enjoy it, we're behind Boston. Feel sorry for everybody that was involved in it and you know, we're Americans and guess what? We're gonna go out and have fun, said runner Nancy Hasey.

More:Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon Sunday

She and many others wore a blue wrist band that pledged to remember Boston.

Among the crowd two women browsed the booths wearing Boston Marathon coats.

Karen Watson and Meredith Flanagan live in Boston and were nearing the end of the marathon when the bombs went off.

I had seen my son at mile 17 and I knew he was on the T so I got really nervous. Started to try to call couldn t get phone calls through, so it was the worst 30 minutes of my life till I found him at mile 35, said Karen Watson. She found him safe.

Watson emigrated to the U.S.A. from Ireland. She can t believe immigrants would attack America.

To see people come here and abuse that and abuse the American people, I m angry and so that's why I really have to keep running, always, she said. She's committed to running races around the country as a personal act of defiance.

She and her friend Meredith knew they'd get attention wearing their special marathon coats. It s another part of their personal protest against fear.

People are being very supportive, said runner Meredith Flanagan. Lots of questions. It was hard to wear the coat because again, its hard to celebrate something people died at but on the other hand it s important to wear the coat to show we're stronger than them, she said.

On Sunday, they'll gather with 10,000 others in downtown Portland. They are athletes used to facing adversity and running through it.

We have to keep running, we can t let them win! said Watson.

Read or Share this story: