London Marathon Runs Smoothly, Remembering Boston

Heightened security, big crowds, no incidents for Sunday's race

UPDATE: The London Marathon went off without a hitch Sunday, as 35,000 runners observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings six days earlier.  Record crowds came out to watch and pay tribute to Boston, but no records fell in the race itself.  Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia was the men’s winner with a time of 2:06:04, and Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya won the women’s race in 2:20:15.  The women’s wheelchair race was won by Tatyana McFadden, a Russian-born American who competed in Boston last week and dedicated her race to the memory of those killed and injured.  “Today was about running for Boston,” she said.

A day after bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon killed three and injured 176, London officials announced the city’s marathon will go ahead as planned on Sunday despite heightened security concerns.

 “London, as a city that’s had many problems to deal with in the past in terms of threats, in terms of terrorism, has always wanted to show that it continues to operate and be available for the public,” said London Marathon executive Nick Bitel to the Telegraph.

British sports minister Hugh Robinson told BBC Radio 4, “We are absolutely confident here that we can keep the event safe and secure.”

In a statement on the marathon’s website, organizers said “We have reviewed and will continue to review our security arrangements with the Metropolitan Police and other authorities. We are being fully supported in all aspects of the event to safeguard our runners, spectators, volunteers and staff.”

Further complicating security measures in London will be the funeral Wednesday of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, a divisive figure who even in death has no shortage of angry detractors.

Organizers estimate that some 650,000 spectators will crowd London streets to watch the marathon, which will feature 37,500 runners.

Although last year the city handled many times that number of visitors without incident when it hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is no stranger to random acts of terror. Londoners experienced dozens of IRA bombings from the 1970s through the early 2000s and citywide terror attacks in July 2005 that killed over 50 and injured hundreds.

In honor of the Boston victims, the London event will have a 30-second silence before each start, reports the Guardian.