BOSTON (AP) – Boston Marathon organizers vowed to continue the race next year, calling the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon “a deeply held tradition (and) an integral part of the fabric and history of our community.”
“We are committed to continuing that tradition with the running of the 118th Boston Marathon in 2014,” Boston Athletic Association head Tom Grilk said on Tuesday.
About 2.5 hours after the winners of Monday’s race reached Copley Square at the end of their 26.2-mile run from Hopkinton, two explosions on at the finish line killed three and injured more than 170 others. Dozens remained in hospitals on Tuesday, while federal and local authorities investigated what President Barack Obama called a terrorist attack.
“It is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon,” Grilk said in a statement. “What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.”
Those still running on the course at the time of the blasts were diverted from the final stretch or stopped. On Tuesday, Boylston Street was still closed off to traffic and guarded at each intersection by police.
Grilk thanked the police and fire departments who responded to the catastrophe, along with the BAA volunteers and medical staff
“Boston is strong. Boston is resilient. Boston is our home,” he said. “And Boston has made us enormously proud in the past 24 hours.”
Runners walking around the city on Tuesday said that they also would not be scared away. Adriana Calabrese, of Milan, said she was stopped after 19 miles and she is eager to return in 2014 to complete the course.
“Nobody can stop us our finish,” she said while sitting at a Newbury Street cafe with two friends who did finish the race. “We’ll be very proud to be here next year.”
One of Boston’s most stylish shopping areas, Newbury Street is a block away from Boylston and usually crowded on the day after the marathon with runners – many wearing their medals and limping from their arduous trek. This year, brightly colored marathon jackets were outnumbered by the yellow safety vests worn by police as they patrolled the area and maintained a lockdown on the crime scene.
A man wearing a pullover that identified him as a member of the State Police FBI Task Force appeared to be going door-to-door; he declined to be interviewed. A police officer staffing a barricade did not know where Boylston Street was when asked by a tourist, revealing himself to be one of the out-of-towners brought in for reinforcements.
Farther out on the marathon course, which stretches through eight cities and towns from Hopkinton to Boston, traffic returned to normal and most remnants of the race had been trucked away. At the base of Heartbreak Hill in Newton, there were flowers and a burned-out candle on the statue of Boston Marathon patriarch Johnny Kelley.
Sylvain Duguay, of Laval, Quebec, posed for a picture at the statue before heading out of town; he had been planning to remain all week “but we didn’t want to stay here,” he said.
“It’s safe, but it’s not interesting” because of the security in the Back Bay, he said.
Joggers ran along the course in Newton and Wellesley. Two police on bicycles rode down Beacon Street into Coolidge Corner in Brookline, where a Massachusetts and U.S. flag were at half-staff. Kids rode skateboards through Kenmore Square as a truck loaded away the last of the portable toilets near the “One Mile To Go” marker painted in the street.
A Boston Police “Special Operations Van” was parked along Commonwealth Avenue, on the last straightaway before the two final turns onto Boylston. Farther down the road, TV satellite trucks were parked in the middle of the boulevard while preparing for live shots.
Across the world of sports – from the New York Yankees to the U.S. men’s sitting volleyball team – athletes expressed solidarity with the victims in Boston.
But for runners, there is only one thing to do.
“The race is supposed to be fun and a celebration, a holiday out there, one of the best weekends of the year to be in Boston. And when that happened, yeah, it totally changed everything,” Olympian Ryan Hall said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I realize that sport is not on people’s minds right now, but it is a way that we can mend frustration, show our determination, our resilience.”
Hall finished in the top five in three straight Boston races – running the fastest time ever for an American in 2011 – but did not compete this year because of an injury. He said the attacks on the race made him even more determined to be back in 2014.
“Whatever they were trying to cause, I hope we get an opportunity next year to show them that they cannot hold us down, this is going to make us stronger and we’re going to come together even more as a country, as a group of runners, as a city,” he said. “It makes me more fired up for next year’s race – on behalf of all those people injured or affected.”
AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this story from Denver.