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April 22, 2014

One year after tragedy, 32,000 run Boston Marathon

BOSTON — Some ran to honor the dead and wounded. Others were out to prove something to the world about their sport, the city or their country. And some wanted to prove something to themselves.

With the names of the victims scrawled on their bodies or their race bibs, more than 32,000 people ran in the Boston Marathon on Monday in a powerful show of defiance a year after the deadly bombing.

“We’re marathon runners. We know how to endure,” said Dennis Murray, a 62-year-old health care administrator from Atlanta who finished just before the explosions last year and came back to run again. “When they try to take our freedom and our democracy, we come back stronger.”

The two pressure cooker bombs that went off near the end of the 26.2-mile course last year killed three people and wounded more than 260 in a spectacle of torn limbs, acrid smoke and broken glass. But the city vowed to return even stronger.

The race was held under extraordinary security, including 100 new surveillance cameras, more than 90 bomb-sniffing dogs and officers posted on roofs.

As runners continued to drag themselves across the finish line in the late afternoon, more than six hours into the race, state emergency officials reported no security threats other than some unattended bags.

At 2:49 p.m., the time of the first explosion, the crowd at the finish line observed a moment of silence — then broke into some of the loudest cheers of the day, with whooping, clapping and the clanging of cowbells.

This year’s starting field of 32,408 included 600 people who were given special invitations for those who were “profoundly impacted” by the attacks, and almost 5,000 runners who were stopped on the course last year when the bombs went off.

“Today, when I got to that point, I said, ‘I have to do some unfinished business,”’ said runner Vicki Schmidt, 52, of Nashville. She added: “You can’t hold us back. You can’t get us down. Boston is magical. This is our place.”

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