"I wanted to return to Boston to run with everyone as a running community, to commemorate and to celebrate running and the people who had lost their lives, lost loved ones," Tanya Carter told Rick Cluff of CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.
Carter is among 36,000 official entrants in this year's Boston Marathon. Last year, three people were killed when a pair of pressure cooker bombs were set off during the event.
The Prince George runner crossed the finish line on April 15, 2013, just five minutes before the first explosion.
"When we saw the first one and heard the first one, one of the people behind me, with fear in their eyes, said 'It's a bomb.' And of course, naive Prince George Canadian, I'm like, 'No, it can't be a bomb,'" Carter recalled.
"But then when I saw the second one go off, that's when it registered that something was wrong," she said.
Carter was directed by volunteers to the family meeting area, where she was reunited with her husband and friends, who'd also fled after the bombs went off.
"Everything just felt so surreal," she said.
Increased security at this year's race
Carter says she's not worried about her personal safety during this year's race, although the bombings are always at the back of her mind.
The Boston Police Department says it will have an increased presence of uniformed and undercover officers at the run.
More than 100 cameras have been installed along the route, and up to 50 observation points are set up around the finish line. The city is also offering trauma counselling.- VIDEO | Boston marathon bombing: 1 year later
Despite security concerns, this year's race is expected to have twice the amount of spectators as last year.
Carter says she's impressed by the city's resilience.
"You just don't mess with Boston," she said. "I can't even say enough, what wonderful people they are."