In Boston, warming up for, remembering marathon day
Updated: 2014-04-17 11:21
By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)
An exhibit at the library features items from the makeshift memorial
The Boston Marathon finish line area in Copley Square was bustling with activity on Wednesday afternoon. Police were directing traffic, tourists were taking photos, and marathon staff were making adjustments to hanging banners, all anticipating the 118th running of the marathon next Monday.
The finish line is just a few steps from where the first bomb detonated last year in front of the sports store Marathon Place. In the store's window was a sign that read: "Thank you Boston. A huge debt of gratitude goes out to the City of Boston and its incredible disaster recovery services teams for making our reopening on Boylston Street a number one priority."
Next door at a sweets shop, which sheltered runners and bystanders after the bomb went off, 18-year-old Laurie Larose said that she thought the store will remain open for next week's marathon, but that she will be taking extra precaution that day. "It doesn't hurt to stay alert," she said.
Isabel Atkinson, who just started working at the store, said, "I'm excited to be in the city and to work on the day of the marathon. Boston is a great city and it will go well."
Across the street at the Boston Public Library, a new exhibit was on display featuring select items taken from the makeshift memorial that was created in Copley Square last year after the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260. There were hundreds of pairs of running shoes that runners from all over the world had donated, as well as a tree where visitors can hang messages of support and encouragement to the Boston community.
"Just the fact that somebody had the mind to do that was crazy," said Roger Clark, a 51-year-old Boston native who works at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. The community has "taken some time to recover" since the bombings and they're still on "pins and needles", he said.
Clark, who wasn't working on the day of last year's marathon, said he will be taking next Monday off for safety reasons. "I'll be at home watching it, praying for a safe marathon and that nothing at all happens," he said.
A Boston police officer by the finish line said that ample security will be at the marathon this year, though he declined to give details or his name since he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.
At least 1 million spectators, twice the usual crowd, are expected along the 26.2-mile course that weaves through eight cities and towns. The number of officers on patrol will be double last year's with 3,500 among the crowd, and 100 additional security cameras and bomb-sniffing dogs.
Jennifer Carter-Battaglino, area director of student residences at Boston University (BU), teaches a marathon class at the university and trained seven BU runners for the race. They will run as part of Team Lingzi, in honor of Lu Lingzi, the 23-year-old Chinese graduate student who was killed last year in the bombings.
"People who have been struggling with the training or the timing have been so positive and supportive. It's been a great experience for all of us to come together for this cause, because it's brought a lot of people together who may not have known each other," she said.
This year's marathon has drawn about 36,000 runners, which is capacity for the course and 9,000 more than last year. The runners include thousands who were forced to stop last year after the explosions and thousands more who want to show their solidarity with Boston.
The Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon, said no bags will be allowed in certain areas at or near the start of the race in Hopkinton, at or near the finish in Boston, or along the course. Bags will not be allowed on buses from Boston to Hopkinton, and bags will not be transported from Hopkinton back to Boston. Containers with more than 1 liter of liquid, costumes covering the face, and bulky clothes such as vests with pockets won't be allowed.
The association said spectators were also being encouraged to leave such items at home. Large flags or signs bigger than 11 inches x 17 inches are also banned from marathon venues.
Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, also urged spectators to not carry large coolers or wear costumes or masks.
"We are aware that many people want to participate in some way in this year's Boston Marathon as a display of support," the BAA said in a statement. "But we ask that those who are not official participants to refrain from entering the course for the safety of the runners and themselves."
According to Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, the marathon and related events will bring in an estimated $175.8 million, the highest-ever Boston Marathon spending impact.
A visitor taking a photograph at the running sneakers on display at the Boston Public Library's Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial exhibit. The running sneakers were donated by runners all over the world. Amy He / China Daily
(China Daily USA 04/17/2014 page2)