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

Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

Elena Fanchini
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Italian skier Elena Fanchini, whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won a silver medal in downhill at the 2005 World Championships and also won two World Cup races in her career — both in downhill.

She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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