The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 21, 2014

Boston Marathon begins under tight security

— BOSTON (AP) — The 118th running of the Boston Marathon began under heavy security Monday morning, a year after the bombings near the race's finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

A moment of silence was observed and "America the Beautiful" was played over a loudspeaker before the race began for mobility-impaired marathoners. The elite men and women runners were starting later in the morning.

Despite heightened security, the mood was festive at the finish line on Boylston Street. Spontaneous applause broke out as a group of Boston police officers walked near the site of last year's twin bombing and children danced as the Rolling Stones' song "Start Me Up" blared over the loudspeakers.

A total of 35,755 athletes entered the race — the second-largest field in its history, many of them coming to show support for the event and the city that was shocked by the attack on its signature sporting event.

"I can't imagine the number of emotions that are going to be there," said Katie O'Donnell, who was running the marathon last year and made it 25½ miles before she was stopped less than a mile from the finish line when the bombs exploded. "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."

The most obvious change for this edition of the world's oldest annual marathon was the heavy security presence. State and local police officers were everywhere, even on the rooftops of some buildings.

Helicopters circled above and bomb-sniffing dogs checked through trash cans. Yet for all the security, the atmosphere was calm and friendly.

"I think everybody is being very pleasant," said Jean Bertschman, a Hopkinton resident who comes to watch the start of the marathon most years and had never seen anything close to this level of security. "I think it's going to be a very good race."

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