Boston Marathon Returns One Year After Blasts
An American who wrote the names of the victims from last year’s deadly Boston Marathon bombing on his runner’s bib has become the first US citizen to win the event in over three decades.
Meb Keflezighi was the first men’s runner to cross the finish line on Monday, just yards from the site where twin blasts killed three people one year ago.
In honour of those victims, as well as the MIT police officer killed in the manhunt that followed the attacks, Keflezighi had written their names in each corner of his runner’s bib.
The 38-year-old from San Diego pumped his fist in the air during the final stretch to the delight of many onlookers who had not seen an American win the men’s division since 1983.
In the women’s division, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo successfully defended her title to become the seventh three-time winner in the race’s 118-year history.
Nearly 36,000 runners – the second-largest field in race history – set out from the starting line in a “Boston Strong” show of resilience following last year’s attack.
For participants and spectators alike, Monday’s race was an emotional event.
Marathon director Dave McGillivray said: “We’re taking back our race. We’re taking back the finish line.”
Katie O’Donnell, who was stopped less than a mile from the end last year, spoke before the start about what it meant to be back.
She said: “I cant imagine the number of emotions that are going to be there. I think I’m going to start crying at the starting line, and I’m not sure I’ll stop until I cross the finish line.”
A moment of silence was observed before the runners set off along the 26.2-mile (42.2km) route from Hopkinton to Boston’s Copley Square
An estimated one million people lined the marathon route, holding signs and cheering on the runners.
Among the signs was one paying tribute to eight-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest of those killed in the bombings.
In reference to a poster Martin had made for school, the sign read: “No more hurting people. Peace.”
Joe Ebert, 61, cheered on his son-in-law from the same spot in downtown Boston where he stood last year when the bombs exploded.
He said: “I wanted to be in this spot. Just wanted to let them know that they can’t beat us down. I think it makes us all stronger when something like that happens.”
This year’s race saw increased security, with police deployed in force along the route. Helicopters circled above and bomb-sniffing dogs checked through trash bins.
On Tuesday, the city marked the first anniversary with a day of tributes to the victims and to first responders who rushed to the scene. In addition to the three people who were killed, another 260 were wounded.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, is awaiting trial and faces the possibility of the death penalty on 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction.
His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died following a gun battle with police several days after the marathon.