118th Boston Marathon Preview

118th Boston Marathon Preview

<p>It's now been just over a year since the tragic day when a pair of homemade bombs rocked the 117th Boston Marathon, resulting in three deaths and hundreds of injuries.</p>

(SportsNetwork.com) - It's now been just over a year since the tragic day when a pair of homemade bombs rocked the 117th Boston Marathon, resulting in three deaths and hundreds of injuries.

A year later, the Boston Marathon - the world's largest, and the most attended single-day sporting event - will be run once again on Monday. This time, it will be bigger and more emotion-filled than ever.

This year, it's personal.

A registered 36,000 competitors will take to the streets in the 118th running of the Boston Marathon, which is the most since 38,708 in 1996 entered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the city's famous race. And those on hand to watch the event, which spans eight towns and ends on Boylston Street in the heart of the city, are expected to double to roughly two million.

The turnout is in direct response to the act of terror that occurred on April 15, 2013. Two brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were suspected of building two homemade pressure-cooker bombs, placing them in backpacks near the finish line, and setting them off.

Tamerlan, 26, died in a shootout with Boston police four days after the bombing.

Dzhokhar, 20, was found by police severely wounded hiding in a boat on a trailer in the backyard of a Watertown, Mass., residence. He was arrested and taken to a hospital where, in a matter of days, he was charged with the crimes, which included the use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death. He pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, and faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

The explosions and acts of terror didn't deter the city from continuing one of its most valued trends. This year, security and police presence for the marathon will double to more than 3,500 officers patrolling the route. Heightened security measures will be taken as well.

On Tuesday evening, the Boston Police Department was called to the finish line of the marathon to investigate two suspicious unattended backpacks left in the road. According to multiple Boston media outlets, one of the backpacks was left by a man who was spotted by security cameras during the day walking down Boylston Street barefoot and wearing a black veil. The backpacks were later detonated by a bomb squad, and were announced to have been carrying a rice cooker filled with confetti in one, and unannounced contents in the second.

The man was later identified as 25-year-old Kevin "Kayvon" Edson, and, according to Boston media, a police spokesman said the suspect was "not of sound mind." He was charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and possession of a hoax device.

Spectators who plan to attend the marathon are being strongly discouraged from bringing backpacks, rolling bags, coolers and other large items, and are instead being asked to carry personal items in clear plastic bags. Anyone who brings a bulky bag near any marathon site will be subject to a police search.

In addition to bags, marathon attendees are being asked not to wear loose costumes or anything that covers their faces during the event. Also, similar to runners, spectators are not permitted to bring containers with more than one liter of liquid to the race.

Col. Timothy Alben, commander of the state police, said police will have more than 100 additional security cameras along the route, and have met with business owners to coordinate use of their surveillance cameras.

Spectators are being asked to remain vigilant throughout the day and to report any unusual or suspicious behavior to authorities.

"We are confident that the overall experience of runners and spectators will not be impacted, and that all will enjoy a fun, festive and family-oriented day," said Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Unregistered runners who might typically join the race, known as "bandits," will not be allowed this year due to the already filled-to-capacity field of registered runners. Organizers of the race accepted an additional 9,000 runners for the 118th running, which includes 5,000 competitors who were stopped prior to reaching the finish line in 2013.

Little will stop participants and spectators alike from returning to the city and the race, which attracts support from all across the world.

Tom Grilk, the executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, said in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" that this race is a profound statement for the city and the people against terrorism.

"The race this year for a great many people will be about that. It will be seen as a response to terror and a statement of resilience," Grilk said in the interview with Anderson Cooper.

Returning to the field of runners will be a strong bunch of veteran and acclaimed marathoners. The marathon's 2013 winners, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Rita Jeptoo of Kenya, will defend their titles this year, but will have a strong American contingent to get through.

No American has won the men's or women's race since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach captured the women's title back in 1985. The last American man to win the race was Greg Meyer of Michigan in 1983. Before that, it was Alberto Salazar in 1982. Salazar's trainee, Dathan Ritzenhein, will make his Boston Marathon debut on Monday.

Ritzenhein's most recent marathon in October in Chicago was a disappointing fifth-place finish in 2:09:45, a race where he was trying to lower the 2:07:47 personal record he'd set there the previous year (Desisa won the men's Boston run in 2:10.22 in 2013). Ritzenhein held the record in the 5,000-meter run (12:56.27 from 2009-10), and is a three-time national cross country champion.

The U.S. squad also includes Olympic marathoners Desiree Davila Linden and Meb Keflezighi, Olympic 10K runner Amy Hastings, and marathon veterans such as Serena Burla (2:28 personal record), Jason Hartmann (fourth place at the last two Boston Marathons), Nick Arciniaga (2013 national marathon champion) and Brett Gotcher (fifth at 2012 Olympic Trials).

But perhaps the best shot for the United States to take the Boston Marathon lies with Shalane Flanagan.

Flanagan, a native of nearby Marblehead, Mass., and a current resident of Portland, Ore., ran Boston for the first time last year, placing fourth (2:27.08).

She grew up just outside Boston and ran cross country and track for a nearby high school. She's trained all year since the 2013 marathon, and has run the course multiple times this offseason.

For her, this year's race is about getting back out on the course and running for everyone who was affected by last year's bombings.

"I was angry," Flanagan said of the attack, which occurred just hours after she crossed the finish line. "I was really (ticked) off that someone would do this. It was a personal attack to my city. ... There's probably not a day that goes by that I don't think about the events that unfolded there.

"It's hard to express what it means to return this particular year to the place where I grew up and compete. In one word, I guess it would be 'pride.' I and many in the field will be fueled by those who were affected by the tragedy and will be running for those who cannot."

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