TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two beams of light resembling the Twin Towers shined brightly in lower Manhattan Monday night, honoring those who were lost in the September 11th terror attacks on the eve of their 17th anniversary.

Dozens of runners also paid tribute to the victims in their own way, taking part in a three-day multi-state charity run ending at Ground Zero on Tuesday.

More than 60 athletes pounded the pavement in teams, covering the 240 miles from the Pentagon to lower Manhattan in just 72 hours. CBS2’s Reena Roy caught up with them in Trenton, New Jersey.

“I’ve done many races in my life and I’ve never had a finish line, this amazing. This sentimental,” 9/11 Promise Run participant Michael Esposito said.

The participants were fueled not just by physical endurance, but also by their memories.

“The little bit of pain, the little bit of pressure we’re going through, the tightness in our legs… it’s nothing compared to what those folks faced that day,” run participant Mark Giuffre said.

Esposito lost his college roommate and close friend, Peter Milano, who worked at the World Trade Center.

“Knowing that he knows we’re still thinking about him and he’s smiling down on us and it’s pretty amazing,” he said.

There were also stories of courage and survival. Retired FDNY Lt. Joe Torrillo met the runners before the home stretch. He was one of the first responders buried in debris when the towers collapsed.

“I was right outside the south tower when I heard a rumbling roar, but I didn’t make it,” he recalled. “Pieces hit my head, slabs of concrete hit my body. Later on in day I woke up in the operating room.”

He says the event served as a reminder to honor every day the thousands who didn’t make it.

“I want that day to be remembered,” Torrillo said. “All the heroes carried to the cemetery, and just to keep the memory alive for all the victims and their families.”

This year, runners raised more than $65,000, all of which will be going to Hope for the Warriors — a nonprofit that helps post-9/11 service members, veterans, and their families.