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29 Kalamazoo area athletes prepare to run the Boston Marathon

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Kalamazoo area athletes prepare for Boston Marathon. (WWMT/File - CBS)

The Boston Marathon, the oldest and one of the most prestigious marathons in the world will attract an estimated 30,000 runners, including 29 Kalamazoo-area runners.

Nick Nieboer, 20, of Kalamazoo, was born with Spina Bifda and is paralyzed from the waist down. Nieboer is one of 50 hand cyclists that will compete in the marathon and is believed to be the first hand cyclist from Kalamazoo to compete in the Boston Marathon.

"It's humbling and amazing to say I'm going to go. I'm going there to do best I can, no matter what," Nieboer said.

Nieboer and 28 runners from the Kalamazoo area qualified for the race.

Mattawan resident Scott Van Loo qualified for his first Boston Marathon in 2019.

"It really wasn't an ultimate goal to go to Boston because the times were very hard to get into," said Van Loo.

Van Loo said he's ran in 75 marathons and only started running in 2007 to get in shape.

"In 2007, I stepped on the scale and was 230 pounds. Right now on race day, I'm 160 pounds. We're built to run, it's inspiring to do it," Van Loo said.

Jon Mathiesen embarked on his fourth Boston marathon. Mathiesen was there in 2013 and finished the moments before the Boston bombings.

"I made it to the finish line without any problems. We were walking to the first train stop and heard the first bombing," Mathiesen said.

He said the way people supported the city after the tragedy drew him to keep coming back.

"It solidified me as a runner more than anything to see the running community come together," he said.

Mathiesen is determined to finish the 2019 Boston Marathon. He said during the 2018 race that he nearly suffered hypothermia and was unable to finish.

"I got to mile 18, pulled into the medical tent and was told I pretty much had hypothermia. Mentally it's hard because you always want to finish the race," Mathisen said.

These athletes said it's not about winning the race, but about finishing.

"When I cross that finish line I'm going to smile. No matter if I come in first, no matter if I come in last, I'm going to smile when crossing that finish line," said Nieboer.