- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

A look at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.


WAVING FLAGS: Carlos Arredondo and his wife, Melida, are standing in the viewing stands just past the finish line waving small American flags. Arredondo was wearing his trademark cowboy hat and a Boston Strong shirt.

The two were at last year’s race, handing out flags, when the bombs went off.

Arredondo quickly ran to the aid of Jeff Bauman and helped rush him in a wheelchair to medical attention, a scene captured in an arresting AP photo. Bauman lost his legs.

- Michelle R. Smith - www.twitter.com/MRSmithAP


PLAY BALL: The local baseball team has its traditional Patriots Day morning start time Monday. Instead of wearing “Red Sox” across the chests of their home uniforms, the players’ jerseys read “Boston,” just as they did for the tribute to bombing victims at Fenway Park last April 20.

The reigning world champs host the Baltimore Orioles with the first pitch at 11:05 a.m.


US CHAMP: American Tatyana McFadden won the women’s wheelchair race for the second straight year. McFadden celebrated her 25th birthday Monday.

McFadden was born in Russia and lived in an orphanage as a child.

- Pat Eaton-Robb - https://twitter.com/peatonrobb


LIVE FROM THE COURSE: Bill Kole, AP’s New England bureau chief, is running the race - and tweeting from every mile. He reports from the start: “The gun booms, the runners roar; we’re off. I’m bobbing in a sea of fist pumps and high fives. Boston’s back.”

- Bill Kole - https://twitter.com/billkole


PARTY ON: Once out of the starting town of Hopkinton, security appeared no stiffer than in past years. The traditional party atmosphere was in full force.

Loud music blared from a pair of tree-mounted speakers. Up the road, a string band played. Fans hauled coolers, beach chairs, strollers, even grills to the yards and driveways along the course.

The wall of sound that is Wellesley College was in full throat, with hundreds of students screaming loudly enough to be heard a quarter of a mile away.

- Rik Stevens - https://twitter.com/RikStevensAP


FIRST CHAMP: Ernst van Dyk of South Africa won the men’s wheelchair division for a record 10th time. The 41-year-old crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 36 seconds.

Van Dyk holds the record for most all-categories Boston Marathon wins. This was his first win at this race since 2010.

- Pat Eaton-Robb - https://twitter.com/peatonrobb


SIGNS OF TIMES: Fans in Ashland, 2 miles into the race, were showing their spirit with bright red T-shirts that read “Wicked Strong.”

A woman wearing “survivor” on her bib and “4.15” - the date of the bombing last year - broke from a walk into a jog as she approached a crowd in Ashland, eliciting a cheer from the spectators.

More than one sign of support along the route read “Collier Strong,” a tribute to the MIT police officer killed during the hunt for the Tsarnaev brothers after the bombings.

- Rik Stevens - https://twitter.com/RikStevensAP


INSPIRATION: On Marathon Monday in 2013, Sabrina Dello Russo and four of her friends watched the Red Sox game, then walked over to the finish line as she did every year. Dello Russo and Roseann Sdoia talked about running the race the next time around.

Dello Russo is now following through by taking on her first marathon, and she’s doing it for Sdoia, who lost her right leg in the bombing.

“She is my inspiration from Day 1 last year when I saw her in the ICU,” said Dello Russo, 38, from South Boston. “Every run I do, she is in the back of my head, and she will be keeping me going today.”

- Paige Sutherland - https://twitter.com/psutherland458


GAME DAY FOR EMTS: The paramedics, EMTs and doctors responsible for the marathon’s final 2 miles gathered for final instructions near the finish line in Copley Square shortly after 9:30 a.m.

There are roughly 140 emergency medical personnel assigned to the last 2 miles, a jump from around 110 last year, according to Boston EMS chief James Hooley.

He told the group to “concentrate on today.”

“We almost don’t have the luxury to think about the past,” Hooley said. “This is game day.”

In an average year, he said, 3 or 4 percent of the runners need medical treatment of some kind.

“We’ve got a good, long day ahead of us,” Hooley said.

- Steve Peoples - https://twitter.com/sppeoples


TAKING BACK RACE: The elite men and first wave of amateur runners have started.

Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray told them: “We’re taking back our race. We’re taking back the finish line.”

The race’s field is the second largest in its history. There are 35,755 confirmed entrants - 19,648 men and 16,107 women - far more than the typical 27,000. Organizers invited back more than 5,000 entrants who were still on the course last year when the bombs went off and made room for runners who submitted essays.

To accommodate everyone, the field is starting in four waves of about 9,000 people each. The biggest Boston Marathon was the 100th edition, in 1996, when there were 38,708 entrants. At the time it was the biggest marathon in history.


KEEPING WATCH: More than 250 personnel from law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, state and federal agencies and the National Guard were monitoring the race from a coordination center set up at the Framingham headquarters of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Radios crackled throughout the sprawling underground facility as officials watched feeds from security cameras, television coverage and helicopters. A list of “significant events”- including start times, street shutdowns and reports of unauthorized vehicles - scrolled across large monitors.

- Amy Crawford - https://twitter.com/amymcrawf


AMERICAN DROUGHT: A huge cheer went up when Shalane Flanagan, of Marblehead, Mass., was introduced before the elite women started their race.

It’s been nearly 30 years since an American woman won. That came in 1985 when Michigan’s Lisa Larsen Weidenbach ran uncontested to capture the title in 2:34:06.

For the men, it’s been a longer drought: Massachusetts’ own Greg Meyer broke the tape in 1983 in a time of 2:09.

Since 1991, a runner from Kenya has won the men’s race 19 times. The women’s side has been more diverse. Since 1991, 10 Kenyan runners have captured the title, followed by Ethiopia with five and Russia with four.

- Rik Stevens - https://twitter.com/RikStevensAP


FATHER-SON FINALE: Dick and Rick Hoyt are among the most recognizable faces at the Boston Marathon. Rick has cerebral palsy and his father, Dick, pushes him along the course in a wheelchair every year. They’ve completed Boston 30 times.

They’re so beloved that there’s a statue in their honor in Hopkinton, where the race starts. They didn’t get to finish last year because of the bombing. This will be their last time doing the marathon together - Dick is 74 - though Rick plans to continue with someone else pushing him.


SAFE RETURNS: John Stuart, 57, has run Boston 19 times and lives about three blocks from the finish line. He had a 16-race streak going and planned to run this year until he got a bug and was told not to by his doctor Friday.

Instead, he’s scratching something off his bucket list, watching the elite runners cross the finish line for the first time and cheering on friends.

Stuart was running the race last year for the BAA team and finished about half an hour before the explosions. His wife, daughter and son were still in the finish line area when the bombs went off. His wife, Kathy, was knocked down. But none were seriously hurt.

They’re sitting just a few feet away from the place where they watched last year. Kathy says she figures they were lucky in that spot last year, so why not come back?

A bomb-sniffing police dog earlier checked his family’s chairs and the bags of people sitting nearby.

“It’s sad that it’s come to this,” Kathy said. “You can’t just walk and go to a race. It costs the city a whole lot of money. I’d rather have it be this way: safe.”

- Michelle R. Smith - www.twitter.com/MRSmithAP


ALL THE WAY BACK: Among the returning runners is 58-year-old Carol Downing, of Monkton, Md. Daughters Erika Brannock and Nicole Gross were badly hurt last year as they waited for her to finish. Downing was stopped about a half-mile from the end of the race.

Both daughters will be in Boston this year to see their mom run, but they’re still debating whether they will return to the finish line.

“I’m trying not to think about last year and just looking forward to getting to the finish line and seeing my family,” Downing said. “This time having a better ending.”

- Paige Sutherland - https://twitter.com/psutherland458

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