Boston Marathon to move forward with traditional spectacle of a finish

Boston Marathon
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BOSTON — The Boston Marathon’s added significance this year also accentuates its traditions. That will be clear around lunchtime Monday, when the elite runners turn left off Hereford Street and onto Boylston Street.

“You make that turn, and there’s the finish line, so close, yet so far,” said Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 1979 and 1983 Boston Marathon champion. “We’re going to see a finish line like no other finish line.”

There will be 9,000 more runners than a year ago, and as many as double the spectators, perhaps one million along the 26.2-mile route through eight cities and towns.

They’ve come to participate in and watch the 118th edition of the world’s oldest annual marathon, one rocked by twin bombings last year. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured when two pressure cooker bombs exploded within about 12 seconds of each other near the revered Boylston Street finish line.

“Boylston Street is forever changed,” U.S. elite marathoner Ryan Hall said.

Boston Marathon Previews: Men | Women | TV, Race Schedules

The crowded sidewalks were a mix of remembrance and renewal on Good Friday.

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The shoes left at last year’s Boston Marathon represent three layers of meaning — running gear, good luck charms and eulogies.

The Boston Public Library’s Central Library takes up the south side of Boylston along the finish line. It houses, “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,” a free exhibit of displayed items brought inside from the outdoor makeshift memorials of last year.

There are four white crosses for the three who died from the attack — Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu — and for Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who investigators say was shot and killed by the bombing suspects days later.

There are a few hundred pairs of running shoes, which were left symbolically at bordering Copley Square by runners last year.

And there are supportive notes from a Sandy Hook, Conn., mom, Kashmiri Hindu refugees and a Yankees fan.

The Old South Church takes up the north side of Boylston just past the finish line. Senior women were swarmed by marathon entrants there Friday afternoon.

The women organized a giveaway of more than 7,000 blue and yellow scarves knitted and donated from around the world — Australia, Thailand, even 400 made by a group of women from New Hampshire. A hug accompanied each scarf, billed as “interwoven with love and courage.”

On the other side of the finish line, exact locations of the explosions were respectfully recognized.

Eight sets of yellow “Marathon Daffodils” lined in front of the Marathon Sports apparel shop at 671 Boylston, site of the first bomb.

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It wasn’t easy to notice the site of the second bomb while walking on crowded Boylston Street Friday.

More flowers, a runner’s medal hanging from a tree and a solitary shoe lay outside Forum restaurant at 755 Boylston, where the second bomb detonated.

The rest of Boylston’s sidewalks were a kaleidoscope — the blue and yellow apparel from the 2013 marathon, the orange jackets outfitted for this year’s race and the fluorescent green covering police officers at several stops.

In Copley Square, beyond the finish, John Singleton Copley‘s statue wore a blue and yellow scarf and race credential.

Just about every other storefront window advertised signs of encouragement, including a large odometer-type display of 858.5 feet to go outside Capital One bank’s cafe at 799 Boylston.

On Marathon Monday, the runners will use that atmosphere as final bits of fuel, passing the 26-mile mark.

It’s the crowd, most of all.

“You’re tapping into everything you can to get to the line,” said American Desiree Linden, who was two seconds shy of winning in 2011. “It’s like calling you home.

“That’s why you get up in the morning when it’s negative 30 [degrees] and head out the door [to train]. You think about that and how you could break that tape.”

And not just for the dozens of elite runners.

“They almost will you not to quit,” said Boston Fire Lt. Paul J. McCarthy, who is running his 16th marathon unofficially (he may have entered a few as an unregistered “bandit” runner on dares). “They just bring you home. It’s like a ride that they bring you on.”

Officials are expecting Boylston Street to be so popular that they’ve requested spectators instead watch at other course points.

Security will be staggering, about double the police presence as last year. The surveillance cameras, barricades and National Guard mark another reminder of the development of this race.

The two-time Olympian Hall has read books, studied and watched YouTube videos of landmark moments of the world’s oldest annual marathon.

“The thing that makes it the most unique is the history behind the race,” Hall said. “Now I get to take my turn in the history books.”

Inspired by the first modern Olympics in 1896, the Inaugural Boston Athletic Association Road Race in 1897 covered 24.5 miles, with 18 entrants, 15 starters and 10 finishers.

In 1968, Amby Burfoot of Connecticut won it literally running through the crowd in downtown Boston.

“It was like Moses and the Red Sea,” said Burfoot, now 67, who is checking off his 20th Boston Marathon this year. “They opened, they let me go, and they closed in back of me. And I had a guy [another competitor, behind me] on my shoulder. I was looking back for him, and all I could see was the crowd closing in back of me.”

Samuelson’s vivid Boylston memories are audible, listening to finish-line announcer Tom Grilk call her name over public address on course-record-setting victories in 1979 and 1983.

She heard nothing at the finish in 2013, when she clocked 2 hours, 50 minutes, 29 seconds, before the attack. Grilk, now the Boston Athletic Association executive director, saw his shift end near her 2:50 mark, and there was a bit of silent period before the new caller took over.

Samuelson, 56, is running again this year. She wouldn’t miss it.

“It’s a moment to remember, to appreciate and to respect,” Samuelson said. “At the same time, it’s a moment to move forward.”

Four-time Olympic medalist returns to run Boston Marathon again

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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