GLOBALPOST LIVE BLOG: 118th BOSTON MARATHON KICKS OFF!
UPDATE: 2/21/14 5:00 PM ET
This live blog is now closed. Please check here for the latest marathon news.
UPDATE: 2/21/14 3:35 PM ET
Scenes of camaraderie, joy on the marathon route
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A marathon runner pops the question
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'I was going to give everything I could for the people,' says marathon winner Meb Keflezighi
Thomson Reuters — Meb Keflezighi on Monday became the first US male athlete to win the Boston Marathon in three decades as onlookers chanted "USA! USA!," an emotional performance in a city still recovering from last year's fatal bombing attack on the world-renowned race.
Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea but is now a US citizen, pulled ahead of a pack of elite African runners a little more than halfway into the race and held off a late challenge by Kenya's Wilson Chebet. His official time: two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds.
Among the women, Kenya's Rita Jeptoo notched her second consecutive win of the race, smashing a 12-year course record with a blistering official time of two hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds, reeling in American Shalane Flanagan, who had led the women for the first 20 miles of the 26.2-mile (42.2-km) race, setting a punishing pace.
Keflezighi said he had been extra motivated to win after seeing the attack last year. "It was not just about me. ... I was going to give everything I could for the people," said Keflezighi, a resident of San Diego.
Noting that the Boston Red Sox's World Series championship last year had lifted the city's spirits, he added that he wanted to provide a similar boost: "When the Red Sox did it, I said, 'I want to do it for Boston.'"
Flanagan, who finished seventh, gave a tearful television interview after the race.
"I love Boston so much and I really wanted to do it for this city," said Flanagan, who was raised in Marblehead,Massachusetts. "I'm so sad I couldn't do it for Boston."
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Snapshots of runners and spectators on Boylston Street
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Meb Keflezighi wins men's race
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Kenya's Rita Jeptoo wins again!
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What did the Boston Marathon look like in 1946?
Check out these awesome gifs of the 50th Boston Marathon on NPR's Tumblr.
UPDATE: 4/21/14 11:13 AM ET
Spectators from around the globe
From GlobalPost Editor Emily Lodish:
These students from Indonesia who are touring Boston said they are very excited that their visit has coincided with the Boston Marathon.
Reza Zaida, a 20-year-old law student from the outskirts of Jakarta, said the response to terrorism by the US is better than Indonesia's.
"In Indonesia they would have cancelled it and had a sad day — a memorial. It is courageous to have it again," Zaida said.
"In Indonesia, they don't have the courage to show they're not scared. Here they just make it happen," said Ruby Tampubolon, a 22-year-old medical student from Jakarta.
Boston Marathon spectators from Indonesia. (Emily Lodish/GlobalPost)
UPDATE: 4/21/14 10:45 AM ET
One year on, Boston Marathon defies deadly terror attacks
Agence France-Presse — The Boston Marathon returned Monday amid major security after last year's deadly bombings as a near record 35,660 runners get set to compete.
One million people are expected to line the route in a show of defiance and to honor the victims and survivors of the attacks that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
More than 3,500 police — double the number in 2013 — plus members of 60 different local, state and federal security agencies, will deploy to protect the race.
Organizers have drastically tightened security for participants and bags have been banned at the start in Hopkinton, along the course and at the finish line.
The Tsarnaev brothers, the presumed bombers, allegedly hid the explosive devices in backpacks. Glass bottles and large containers of any kind have also been banned.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick vowed the massive event, which coincides with the state's Patriots' Day, would be "very safe."
"We're very alert. We're very prepared, and we're assuring people as much as we can that it'll be a fun day and a safe one," he told CBS's "Face the Nation" show on Sunday.
But despite the beefed up police presence, "we've tried to strike a balance between enhanced security and preserving the family feel of this day," he said.
Across the city, people could be seen wearing "Boston Strong" shirts, with banners bearing the mantra proudly displayed in stores, restaurants and hotels.
Amid bright sunshine, hundreds of runners and onlookers stopped by a memorial — decorated with flowers and shoes — that had been set up to honor those who perished in the twin blasts on April 15, 2013.
"We will never forget them" read a sign by four crosses with the names of those killed — including a police officer allegedly gunned down when he crossed paths with the attackers during the city-wide hunt for the two brothers.
Others plan to pay tribute on Monday during the race. Heather Abbott, amputated below the knee, will be standing close to the starting line to applaud those who saved her life, Peter Riddle and Erin Chatham.
"I'm really excited to be with them," she told AFP.
Many Bostonians and fans of the marathon, the world's oldest annual meet, see Monday as a chance to defy terrorism.
This year, organizers widened the number of entries from 27,000 last year to 36,000, close to the record 38,708 who ran in 1996 on the centenary of the race.
There will be more than 35,660 runners, 5,330 of whom come from 70 countries outside the United States.
Last year's win by Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa passed almost unnoticed.
He returns to Boston, one of the six biggest foot races in the world and part of the prestigious World Marathon Majors circuit.
The 24-year-old has met several victims of the attacks calling them "an inspiration" and has said he will be running again to show that he has no fear.
Several former winners are also taking part on Monday, including America's Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won in 1979 and 1983, and Amby Burfoot (1968), who last year failed to complete the race in the wake of the attacks.
Honoring the victims
Josef Klobusnik, a Slovakian living in Minnesota, said he was still hurting because of what happened.
"Last year was very painful for me, I had a lot of friends here," he told AFP.
On Tuesday, Boston paid emotional homage to the victims, survivors and first responders, united in their determination to conquer the fear of last year.
Vice President Joe Biden led the tribute, calling the survivors an inspiration to people all over the world.
Monday's marathon, Biden said, would send a message to the rest of the world and "to the terrorists that we will never yield, we will never cower."
But in the evening, hundreds of people were evacuated and a 25-year-old man detained for questioning over two suspicious backpacks found near the finish line.
Authorities have announced an economic impact of $175.8 million in the Boston region, the highest in the history of the marathon.
The record so far was the 1996 rendition of the race, which generated $172 million.
The Tsarnaev brothers were identified as perpetrators of the attacks within days thanks to footage from cameras and thousands of photographs.
Tamerlan, 26, was shot by police on April 19, 2013, after killing an officer and Dzhokhar, now 20, was captured and stands accused of 30 federal charges. He is awaiting trial and could face the death penalty if convicted.