BOSTON - Brenda (Bossuyt) Brewster and her family became witnesses to history.
The former Southwest State University basketball standout, who ranks seventh in steals (1.8) and ninth in assists (3.2) on the Mustangs' all-time lists, completed the 2014 Boston Marathon in 3 hours, 57 minutes, 52 seconds on April 21.
Her husband, Brad, and daughters, Bailey (14), Brianna (12) and Brycelyn (9), also were there to cheer her on along the way.
Cottonwood native and current Burnsville resident Brenda (Bossuyt)?Brewster poses for a picture after completing the 2014 Boston Marathon on April 21.
As the Brewsters visited Boston, they saw the informal memorial passersby created after the 2013 Boston Marathon, which is currently on display at the Boston Public Library.
A memorial of running shoes created by and displayed at the Boston Public Library.
The Brewsters saw locals who were defiant in taking back their city a year after a terrorist bombing caused the marathon to end unexpectedly.
"It has been an amazing story in the media here," Brenda said while the Brewsters spent time vacationing on the East Coast. "I talked to several people who were here last year. One lady told me she had been here several times and that she had to return to get that picture (the bombing) out of her mind. She told me the crowds here always give the runners amazing support. There are always tons of children and families who cheer in every town along the course. Many children offer fruit and water to the runners. She said she needed to get that positive feeling back."
The marathon begins more than 26 miles outside of Boston in the rural town of Hopkinton. The runners take a 45-minute bus ride from Boston to the starting point.
The first four miles are run downhill until leveling off for the next 11 miles. At Mile 16, there is dip in the course before a gradual climb to Mile 20 - the location of Heartbreak Hill between Newton and Brookline. From there, the course takes a gradual decline until the runners reach the finish line in Boston.
"The weather was a bit of a challenge because it was warmer. The challenge was to battle the mid-day heat without being overheated," Brenda said. "This is a marathon that you have to prepare for months in advance. Coming from Minnesota, that means doing a lot of treadmill running for 3 hours at a time because it's 20 below (zero) outside."
Brenda, a Cottonwood native who now lives in Burnsville, said she wondered how the crowds would react this year.
"These people were determined to show the world they are not afraid. It was a real theme to take the city back and to show they are, 'Boston Strong,'" Brenda said. "There was amazing support throughout the race but, as we got closer to Boston, the crowds were screaming very loudly. My family members were yelling support to me and I could not hear them."
Although this was Brenda's first Boston Marathon, it was her sixth marathon overall. She has competed in the Twin Cities Marathon, the Whistlestop Marathon in Ashland, Wis., and the Las Vegas Marathon. Her personal best is clocked at 3 hours, 38 minutes.
"This was my first Boston Marathon, but my husband ran here about 15 years ago," Brenda said.. "Jokingly, we thought our entire family could run here again 15 years from now."