Boston Marathon winner inspired by victim of bombings

Runner says he was touched by ‘no more hurting people’ sign drawn by Martin Richard (8)

Meb Keflezighi is congratulated after winning the men’s division of the Boston Marathon. He described the crowd as phenomenal” and said: “I used them to propel me forward.” Photograph: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Meb Keflezighi is congratulated after winning the men’s division of the Boston Marathon. He described the crowd as phenomenal” and said: “I used them to propel me forward.” Photograph: Reuters/Brian Snyder

 

Record crowds basked in bright sunshine to cheer on runners in the second largest field in the Boston Marathon’s 118-year history as this proud city sought to put last year’s bombings behind it.

Security restrictions were tight as spectators were screened by metal detectors and bags inspected as they entered the area around the finish line on Boylston Street, the scene of two blasts last year, detonated seconds apart, that killed three people and injured more than 260.

Onlookers lined the route from the town of Hopkinton, 26.2 miles west of Boston, to the finish line in Boston city centre cheering on 35,755 participants in the world’s oldest annual marathon.

A crowd of about a million people, twice the usual number, watched the larger- than-usual field as race organisers permitted more entries from runners keen to participate in response to last year’s attack.


Extra runners
The race had 9,000 more runners than last year to accommodate about 5,000 participants who were unable to finish the city’s 117th annual marathon due to the blasts just over four hours into the race.

The day was made even sweeter for the local crowds as Meb Keflezighi, a 38-year-old immigrant from Eritrea, became the first American man to win the marathon since 1983. Mr Keflezighi, wearing a red and white top and blue shorts, finished in two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds. The tearful runner high-fived organisers and embraced people at the finish before mayor Marty Walsh crowned him winner as the US national anthem rang out around Boylston Street.

The San Diego-based runner, who also participated last year, described this year’s crowd as “phenomenal”. “I used them to propel me forward,” he said.

He spoke afterwards about meeting the father of Martin Richard (8), the youngest victim of last year’s bombings, at a charity run and said the boy’s famous sign – “No more hurting people – peace” – had inspired him.


Course record
Rita Jeptoo of Kenya won the women’s race in two hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds, a course record.

Nicole Lynch from South Boston watched the race with her husband and three- year-old son by a barricade a few hundred yards from the spot on Boylston Street where they witnessed last year’s blasts.

“We are here today to say that they are not going to knock us down because we are Boston strong,” she said, waiting for her cousin Ronan King, who is originally from Connemara, to cross the finish line.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (20), faces death penalty charges at a trial in November over his alleged role in the blasts.