'It becomes part of your fabric'

You can see the light in Jim Driscoll's deep blue eyes when he talks about his love for ­Boston and its marathon. You can see storm clouds gathering, too.

Having lined up for every running since 1988, his is a life intertwined with the event. He flashes back to the constant of his wife, Leslie, cheering from the same corner, April after April, near the finish; to his son Adam's presence as a boy; to lasting friendships made; to the enthusiasm of a proud city.

Driscoll and his wife had returned to their nearby hotel room and were unaware of the attacks until a close friend called to see if they were OK. "It just hit me like a sledgehammer," he remembered.

"Once you've done that race, it becomes part of your fabric, your DNA. … How could someone do this to such a phenomenal, world-class event that gives people the opportunity to accomplish their goals and dreams and adds fulfillment to their lives?"

Driscoll's consecutive streak at Boston has made him a member of the marathon's quarter-century club (at least 25 consecutive races). A friend of Driscoll's, Bill Langevin, 65, of St. Paul also is a member.

For Driscoll, this is part of a broader pursuit: 100 marathons. "It's a slow-motion goal that has unfolded over many, many years. Then, in the midst of this tragedy … none of this other stuff matters now."

'For them'

Driscoll said the grief he felt immediately after the bombings has welled up anew. He will pay tribute to a city and its victims and expects the huge field to do the same.

The attack was "a personal affront" — but this year's race won't be about the runners.

"That's not just me," he said. "It's going to be that way for thousands and thousands of people.

"It will be a small consolation for the city of Boston and those families and individuals that were affected. … That is why I am going to be there, for them."