Almost 40,000 runners took to the streets today for the London Marathon, six days after two bombs at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 175 others.
The 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) race began in Blackheath in southeast London with the start of the women’s elite race and finishes near Buckingham Palace. Race officials held a 30-second moment of silence before each of the three starts in memory of the Boston victims, while the 37,000 runners were given black ribbons to wear.
Police presence will be increased with “several hundred additional officers” deployed along the route, according to the Metropolitan Police.
“Following the terrible events in Boston, we are providing additional visible reassurance to the public in what is naturally a worrying time,” Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry said in a statement two days ago. “I would stress there is no change to the threat level to London and nothing at this stage to link the Boston bombings to the London Marathon. Nevertheless we want to do all we can to help provide a secure environment in which the runners, spectators and volunteers can enjoy themselves.”
Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo won the women’s event, with Australia’s Kurt Fearnley was champion of the men’s wheelchair race, and American Tatyana McFadden, who won the Boston Marathon, was champion of the women’s wheelchair event.
The elite women started at 9 a.m. local time under blue skies and with a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit.) Twenty minutes later the elite male and female wheelchair participants took to the course.
The elite men and the rest of the field started at 10 a.m. after the moment of silence held for Boston. It took about 15 minutes for the runners to cross the starting line.
Last year’s race was dominated by runners from Kenya. Wilson Kipsang finished ahead of compatriot Martin Lel, a three-time winner in London, in the men’s race, while Mary Keitany won for a second time in leading a Kenya sweep of the top three women’s spots.
In Boston, two bombs exploded near the finish line at the city’s marathon as recreational runners completed the April 15 race. The blasts occurred about 2 1/2 hours after Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia won the men’s event.
A 19-year-old suspect, captured hiding in a boat, was in a hospital with serious wounds as the FBI prepared to question him about what might have inspired and enabled the attack.
Dzhokar Tsarnaev was being treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston for gunshot wounds suffered as he battled police, authorities said. His 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the other suspect, was killed as they both tried to escape the dragnet April 19 shortly after they murdered a police officer officer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Organizers of the London Marathon will make a donation for every finisher to the fund set up to help victims in Boston.
Officials said 2 pounds for every runner who crosses the finish line will be donated to The One Fund Boston set up to raise money after the explosions three days ago. With more than 35,500 runners expected to finish the race, organizers said at least 70,000 pounds ($107,000) is likely to be raised.
The crowds were five to 10 people deep for parts of the race as the clear weather and extra protection drew out spectators.