A large police presence greeted runners and spectators filtering in yesterday morning for the Boston Marathon, a year after a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line killed three people and wounded more than 260.
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.
About 36,000 runners registered for 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 41km out of the 42km course before she was stopped 1km 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.”
Authorities say two brothers planned and orchestrated the twin bombings near the marathon finish line on April 15 last year.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a shootout with police several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting a trial in which he faces a possible death sentence.
The most obvious change for the 118th 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.”
Buses bearing the message “Boston Strong” dropped off runners.
A banner on one building read: “You are Boston Strong. You Earned This.”
Spectators went through tight security checkpoints before being allowed near Hopkinton Common.