Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Runners show solidarity with Boston

The enhanced police presence will help ensure the London Marathon will be 'as safe and fun as it always is', the race's chief executive said
Security personnel check vehicles on The Mall ahead of the London Marathon (AP)
Security has been increased ahead of the London Marathon (AP)

Runners and spectators of the 33rd London Marathon turned out in force in a show of solidarity to the victims of the Boston bomb attacks.

Just six days after two blasts rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon, around 35,000 competitors started the London race, while thousands more lined the streets to cheer them on.

A poignant 30-second silence was held at the start of the men's elite race and mass start and many of the runners wore black ribbons.

But once the race was under way, the racers pounded the streets in perfect spring conditions, while the crowds enjoyed a celebratory and colourful day in the capital. Under blue skies, the participants wound their way from Blackheath to The Mall as temperatures reached up to 15C with almost no wind.

As usual, the 26.2-mile route was filled with runners of all ages and nationalities, with many wearing weird and wonderful fancy dress costumes, such as a gorilla, a beer bottle and Batman.

Karl Hinett, from Tipton, West Midlands, sustained 37% burns to his hands, legs, arms and face when his Warrior tank received a direct hit by a petrol bomb in Basra, Iraq, in 2005. The 26-year-old has dedicated his life to raising money for various charities by taking on physical challenges, and the 2013 London Marathon was his 113th marathon. He said: "The crowds were amazing and the weather was great. And if anything, what I witnessed today, after Boston, it just truly shows that the marathon running community is unbroken."

Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede, 26, won the men's race in a time of two hours, six minutes and four seconds, while Kenya's Priscah Jeptoo, 28, came first in the women's race, clocking a time of 2hrs 20mins 15secs. Derek Hawkins was the first male Briton over the finish line in 13th place, while Susan Partridge was the first female Briton home in ninth. Tatyana McFadden won the women's wheelchair race after also winning it in Boston. She told the BBC: "You know this whole weekend was dedicated to Boston and we got huge support from London." British Paralympic star David Weir said he was disappointed with his fifth place in the men's wheelchair race. London 2012 double champion Mo Farah only ran half the course as planned, as he said he wanted to concentrate on track running this year rather than long distance.

Prince Harry, who made the presentations to the winning athletes, paid tribute to the "remarkable" way the people of Boston dealt with the atrocities. The royal said he had always planned on attending the London event despite the terror attack at the finish line of the US race. "It was never an option as far as I was concerned," he told the BBC. "Certainly everyone that was planning on coming is still here, no one's changed any plans - the volunteers, the security, everyone is here, nothing's changed. The way that Boston has dealt with it has been absolutely remarkable."

Supporters on the finish line outside Buckingham Palace said they were "more determined" than ever to cheer on the runners. The enthusiastic well-wishers expressed their defiance and said they were undeterred by the fatal bombings in Massachusetts. Scotland Yard, which boosted security by 40% to reassure the racers and crowds, said they made just seven arrests along the route. A spokesman said they were for offences ranging from theft to indecent exposure.

More than 1,000 St John Ambulance volunteers, working with the London Ambulance Service and Virgin London Marathon medical teams, treated more than 5,000 runners and spectators at this year's event. Katherine Eaton, the St John Ambulance London regional events manager, said: "Most of the runners who needed treatment were suffering from cramp, sprains, exhaustion and vomiting. More than 40 competitors were taken to hospital suffering from more serious conditions including exercise-associated collapse and suspected fractures. This year's casualty figure is slightly higher than last year when 4,850 people received treatment. This is because during the early part of the race we saw warmer weather than last year."

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