Monday 24 November 2014

Tight security for Boston Marathon on first anniversary of bombing

Published 21/04/2014 | 13:41

Kenya's Rita Jeptoo holds the trophy after winning the women's division at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 21, 2014.     REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES  - Tags: SPORT ATHLETICS)
Kenya's Rita Jeptoo holds the trophy after winning the women's division at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder
Meb Keflezighi of the U.S. reacts after winning the men's division at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon. Reuters/Gretchen Ertl
Meb Keflezighi. Photo: Reuters/Gretchen Ertl
Tatyana McFadden of the United States crosses the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon on Boylston Street taking first place in the women's wheelchair division. Photo: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The elite men's runners race near the start of the 118th Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Runners in the first wave of 9,000 cross the start line of the 118th Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
The elite men's runners compete near the start of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Elite runners including Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi race during the 2014 Boston Marathon. Photo: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Elite women runners leave the start line of the 118th Boston Marathon in Hopkinton. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Marla Fogelman, right, hangs a banner on the second floor over Marathon Sports store, the site of the first bomb blast in 2013, before the start of the 118th Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A couple huddles while waiting to load a bus to take them to the start of the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A police officer stands amidst runners getting ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners get ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners get ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners wait in line for a bus to take them to the start of the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Police officers monitor runners getting ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BRunners eat a last meal before loading a bus to take them to the start of the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Police officers monitor runners waiting to take the bus to the start of the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners wait in line for a bus to take them to the start of the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Two runners walk with garbage bags on to keep them warm prior to running the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners wait in line for a bus to take them to the start of the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners get ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners get ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners get ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A runner tucks gel packets into his socks while getting ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A runner with a temporary Boston Marathon tattoo gets ready to run the 118th Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A runner huddles under a blanket while getting ready to run the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Runners wait in line for a bus to take them to the start of the Boston Marathon in the Boston Commons on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The Boston Marathon started this afternoon amid unprecedented security, one year after a pair of home-made pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said security would be tighter than ever for the 118th edition of the world's oldest marathon, with the race for non-elite runners started at 3pm Irish time.

He told CBS: "There'll be considerably more police presence. But we also don't want to have it, you know, kind of a race through a militarised zone. So it's about striking a balance, and I think we have struck that balance."

Runners attending the event will have to use clear plastic bags for their belongings, and fans hoping to watch near the finish line are encouraged to leave strollers and backpacks behind.

More than 100 cameras have been installed along the route in Boston, and 50 or so "observation points" will be set up around the finish line "to monitor the crowd", the Boston Athletic Association said.

Mr Patrick said there have been no specific threats against the race or the city for the Massachusetts holiday of Patriots' Day.

"We're not taking that as a sign to sort of stand down," he said. "We're very prepared, and we're assuring people as much as we can that it'll be a fun day and a safe one."

About 36,000 runners have 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.

Race organisers expanded the field from its recent cap of 27,000 to make room for more than 5,000 runners who were still on the course at the time of the explosions, for friends and relatives of the victims and for those who made the case that they were "profoundly impacted" by the attack.

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Kenya's Rita Jeptoo, who crossed the finish line on Boylston Street about three hours before the explosions, will return to defend their championships. Desisa returned to Boston last fall to donate his first-place medal to the city as a gesture of support.

Jeptoo, who also won the race in 2006, said she is hoping for a third victory - and one she can enjoy.

"It was very difficult to be happy. People were injured and children died," she said of last year's marathon. "If I'm going to win again, I hope I can be happier and to show people, like I was supposed to last year."

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