This morning, tens of thousands of runners took off from the starting line at the Boston Marathon, the first since last year’s tragic bombing. Supporters waved signs and cheered extra loudly along the 26.2-mile route for this year’s nearly 36,000 runners. "The energy here is amazing," said spectator Ashley De La Russo, a college student from Orlando, Florida. "I knew it was going to be a scream tunnel, but this is just unbelievable."
Two hours and eight minutes after setting off, American Meb Keflezighi was the first to cross the finish line in the men’s race. He’s the first runner from the United States to win the Boston Marathon since 1985. The 38-year-old runner from San Diego, California, looked over his shoulder several times over the final mile. After realizing he wouldn't be beat by another runner, Keflezighi raised his sunglasses, began pumping his right fist and made the sign of the cross.
In the women’s race, Rita Jeptoo of Kenya defended her championship from last year. She completed the course in two hours and 18 minutes.
A Day of Tragedy
The Boston Marathon is held on Patriot's Day, a Massachusetts state holiday that marks the start of the Revolutionary War and the battles of Lexington and Concord, in 1775. The race, currently in its 118th year, is the oldest continually run marathon in the world.
On April 15, 2013, the race ended in tragedy. About five hours into the race—after more than 17,000 of the 26,000 runners had already crossed the finish line—two bombs exploded within seconds of each other near the end of the course.
Within minutes of the explosion, onlookers, volunteers, and emergency workers rushed to help those injured. Officials said their quick actions saved many lives. The incident killed three people and wounded more than 260 runners and spectators.
Authorities believe two brothers carried out the attack. One was killed after a shootout with police and the other is in jail and awaiting trial.
A Fresh Start
Officials worked all year to make sure today’s race went smoothly. Extra security and cameras were posted along the route to keep everyone safe. Spectators requesting to stand near the starting and finish lines went through tight security checkpoints.
Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray said it had been a long and difficult year. "We're taking back our race," he said. "We're taking back the finish line."
Buses carrying the message “Boston Strong” dropped off runners at the starting line in the town of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Sabrina Dello Russo, 38, of South Boston, was running her first marathon for a good friend, Roseann Sdoia, who was injured during last year’s race. "She is my inspiration from day one last year when I saw her in the [hospital],” Dello Russo said. “Every run I do, she is in the back of my head, and she will be keeping me going today."