BALTIMORE (WJZ) — This weekend, 27,000 people from 50 states and 12 countries will lace up their running shoes for Saturday’s Baltimore Running Festival. The honorary starter has an incredible survivor story.

Jessica Kartalija explains.

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It’s been seven months since Towson preschool teacher Erika Brannock lost her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombings. This Saturday, she has a crucial role at the start of Baltimore’s marathon.

The last time Erika Brannock attended a road race, it changed her life forever. Brannock and her sister were at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bomb went off. Erika had to have her lower left leg amputated. Now, she’s heading to another race with a very special honor.

Brannock will blow the air horn at the start of the 13th Annual Baltimore Marathon.

“Being able to be the person who starts a group of runners off is such a great honor. And for it to be in the city that has given me a tremendous amount of support makes it that much better,” said Brannock.

Brannock will be at Camden Yards when the race begins. Runners will wind their way through the city. She will also be outside of M&T Bank Stadium, holding the ribbon when the first marathon runner crosses the finish line.

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“I hope that I can be a source of support and encouragement for everyone who will be there Saturday lacing up their shoes and taking steps to accomplish another personal goal for themselves,” Brannock said.

Brannock has a long road ahead of her, but a powerful message.

“To me, this says I will never hide from the things that scare me,” Brannock said. “But that I will stare fear in the eye and say, ‘You will not keep me from living my life’. I ask that each of you do the same and never let a setback or fear keep you from living your life, too. Thank you.”

Last week during physical therapy, Brannock walked without help for the first time.

Last year’s running festival poured almost $39 million into the local economy and raised almost $2 million for local charities.

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