Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

National news

April 18, 2014

Boston Marathon makes room for more runners

BOSTON (AP) — More than 5,000 runners were still on the Boston Marathon course when the bombs went off on Boylston Street.

Race organizers were eager to invite them back — to let them finish what they started — and aware of the message that would send.

"The thought was: If those people, like so many others, wanted to have some physical expression of resilience and determination, it would probably be that many of them at least would want to run the whole race," Boston Athletic Association president Tom Grilk said as he prepared for the 118th Boston Marathon. "Can we do that? We thought we'd like to do that."

Then there were the police and firefighters who helped at the site of the explosions; the doctors and nurses and volunteers and EMTs who tended to the wounded; the injured themselves, and friends and relatives who wanted to run in their honor or memory.

After capping the field at 27,000 for about five years, race organizers quickly realized that would not be enough for Monday. But soon the effort to be more inclusive for what proves to be an emotional return to the streets ran into the reality of New England life: The roads built in a horse and buggy era weren't made for tens of thousands of runners, nor the thousands of fans who cheer them on.

"The streets, the roads are pretty much the same roads that were there in 1897. The starting line is still 39 feet wide," Grilk said last week in an interview at the B.A.A. offices, less than two blocks from the finish line. "So we can't create more space. We can use a little more time, so we can stretch it out."

To fit the additional runners — for a total field of 36,000 that will be the second-largest in the race's history — organizers will rely again on a staggered start. From 10 to 11:25 a.m. on Monday, four waves of about 9,000 apiece will leave Hopkinton for the 26.2-mile trek to Boston's Copley Square.

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