London marathon message: 'Runners are stronger than bombers'
On Sunday the mood at the London marathon was festive, as many runners paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
In Pictures Learning from the Boston Marathon bombings
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Thousands of runners offered tributes to those killed and injured in Boston on a glorious spring day in London. The race began after a moment of silence for the victims in Boston, and many here wore black armbands as a sign of solidarity.
"It means that runners are stronger than bombers," said Valerie Bloomfield, a 40-year-old participant from France.
London's is the first major international marathon since the double-bomb attack near the finish line in Boston, which left three people dead and more than 180 injured, including many who are still hospitalized. In addition, a policeman was killed during the search for the two suspected bombers. One suspect was killed during a shootout with police, while a second has been arrested.
Some 36,000 runners were expected to take part in the London race, which also draws tens of thousands of spectators. Police said they planned to add 40 percent more officers and extra surveillance as a precautionary measure.
Most runners in London said they weren't worried by the Boston bombings, and the impressive turnout of enthusiastic fans lining the routes showed the same spirit.
Stuart Calderwood, an editor with a New York running magazine who has run in eight Boston Marathons, said the carnage there had made him and his friends more determined to run in London.
"We thought, 'What's going on with marathons? Are we vulnerable, in danger?'" said Calderwood, 55, after finishing the London course. "My group that came here, we just decided this is going to make us better. We're going to say marathons are the opposite of bombing and hostility and terror. People come from all over the world, work together to do something they couldn't do by themselves."
He said he put his hand on his heart as he crossed the finish line to honor the Boston victims: "I was thinking in the last mile about the kid that died, his name is Martin Richard and he used to run through every puddle he saw in the street. He loved to run. I ran that for him. ...This is for marathons and positive thinking."
David Wilson, 45, said there was no question of canceling the marathon. He noted that Londoners had come back onto the streets the day after the lethal July 7, 2005, transit system bombings and weren't easily cowed.
"You can't not do anything, because otherwise you'd stay on the outs all the time," he said.
But Chris Denton, a 44-year-old engineer stretching his legs by the start line, acknowledged an undercurrent of anxiety. He'd asked that his family not come out to support him because of a possible copycat attack. "I left them at home," he said. "If only for my peace of mind."
The men's race was won by Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede; the women's champion was Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo.
Among the participants in London was Tomasz Hamerlak of Poland, who finished fourth in the men's wheelchair race and had competed in Boston last week. He said he was determined to race in London.