The Boston Marathon is always a big event, but this year is going to be especially significant.
Last year’s race was cut short by the horrific events of April 15th, 2013: as runners crossed the finish line, two bombs went off, killing three and wounding over 260 people. As the year anniversary of the Boston bombing nears, the memory is still fresh in many runners’ and Bostonians’ minds.
However, instead of focusing on fear, there has been more clamor than ever to enter the race. Organizers increased the field size to accommodate both this year’s qualifiers and runners from last year who were unable to finish.
In addition to the numerous signs of solidarity that will undoubtedly appear at this year’s race, on April 21st, there will be an official tribute to last year’s Boston Marathon on April 15th of this year.
While runners and race organizers are looking forward to this year’s Boston Marathon, many feel that of primary importance is recognizing and remembering last year’s survivors and victims.
The Boston Athletic Association will coordinate the anniversary event with One Fund Boston, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. In a statement about the event, Gov. Patrick noted that “we were put to the ultimate test by the events at last year’s Boston Marathon…Though we all had our lives affected in profoundly different ways, this tribute will show the world again that we stand as one.”
Attendees, who include first responders, affected families, and members of governmental and civic agencies, are coming on an invitation-only basis. The tribute will include a flag-raising ceremony and a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives in the Boston bombing.
The BAA executive director noted that they especially hope to honor the attributes of “bravery and tenacity exhibited in the moments following last year’s events” by first responders and bystanders.
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Six days after the tribute, thousands of runners will once again line up at the Boston Marathon start line.
Despite some concerns that people might be scared off by last year’s events, the Boston Athletic Association found that quite the opposite was true.
According to the BAA, 9,000 more runners will compete in the 2014 Boston marathon than competed last year. This increase in field size will require additional resources, but by working with other state and community organizations, race organizers are hoping to accommodate many of those who want to run in tribute to last year’s bombing victims.
With that in mind, of special concern this year is achieving “the correct balance among the field of participants by accepting as many qualifiers as possible, accommodating those who were prevented from crossing the finishing line in 2013, and recognizing some who were directly involved in 2013.”
According to BAA, 4,700 members of this year’s field are runners who were unable to finish in 2013. Invited and charity runners make up another 9,300 participants. Runners in those two categories will start first, followed by qualifiers based on time.
Both during the tribute to remember victims of the Boston bombing as well as during this year’s marathon, the rest of the country will undoubtedly be watching and standing united with Boston.