MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Monday, 26,000 runners lined up for the Boston Marathon not knowing the horror that would await many of them at the finish line. Among the runners in Boston that fateful day was Miami Beach lawyer Tom Nealon.

“When we first heard, we thought, it can’t possibly be true,” Nealon said. “I mean it was so incredible, having run it for, this was my 11th year running the race. You could never imagine something that horrific could ever happen.”

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Nealon is a charity runner and was running the marathon to raise funds for the American Liver Foundation and his best friend, 10-year-old Zach Rue. But on Monday, the race ended for the 65-year-old well before he reached his goal.

“In the past, Zach and his mother had been there to meet me,” Nealon said. “This year, Heather and I had been running together, and we were going to meet up with Zach at the finish line and have our picture perfect moment when the three of us would cross the line together.”

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In a normal year, Nealon would have had family waiting for him at the finish line, right in the path of the blast. But this year, they weren’t there.

“In my case, I was lucky Zach wasn’t there,” Nealon said. “In a normal year, I would’ve had family members, wife, children. I have children and grandchildren who live in Boston who would have been there. But for random reasons and in variety of them, they were not there.”

Nealon and his running mates also came away physically unscathed and committed to return in 2014. But, they know that running in Boston will never be the same again.

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“To have something like this happen, in the midst of it, its likes a violation of something that’s bigger than Boston, bigger than the United States because this is an international event,” Nealon said.