London Marathon Honors Boston Bomb Victims Ahead Of Race With Ribbons, Silence
Undaunted by the Boston Marathon bombings, "big crowds lined the route of London's mass road race on Sunday to cheer on around 36,000 runners," many of whom wore black ribbons to honor the dead and wounded, according to Shirbon & Afanasieva of REUTERS. Hundreds of extra police "were deployed to secure the first race in the World Marathon Majors series" since two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday killed three people and wounded 176. One spectator held up a placard that read "Come on London, do it for Boston!" while some runners had the name of the U.S. city emblazoned on their vests, "but despite these somber reminders the mood was overwhelmingly one of celebration." Before the start of the men's elite and mass races, official commentator Geoff Wightman "led the crowd in a tribute to Boston." Wightman: "This week the world marathon family was shocked and saddened by the events at the Boston Marathon. In a few moments a whistle will sound and we will join together in silence to remember our friends and colleagues for whom a day of joy turned into a day of sadness." The packed ranks of competitors bowed their heads and stood silently for 30 seconds, "then clapped and cheered when a second whistle marked the end of the tribute" (REUTERS, 4/21). In London, Sadie Gray wrote London Marathon Race Dir Hugh Brasher said that a full security review had taken place, and promised "an amazing show." The police presence around the route had been increased by 40%. Baggage Manager Phil Keith said that extra security had been "put in place around the bags of the runners." Keith said that "34 articulated lorries would take the rucksacks of the thousands of runners from the start in Blackheath in south east London to the finish on the Mall near Buckingham Palace" in the center of the capital (LONDON TIMES, 4/21). Also in London, the marathon pledged to donate £2 ($3) for every finisher in Sunday's event to the One Fund Boston "set up to raise money for victims of the explosions" (INDEPENDENT, 4/21). The AFP reported "with around 35,500 people expected to complete the London race," London Marathon organizers hoped to raise more than $100,000 for the fund (AFP, 4/20).
BRITISH RESOLVE: Broadbent & Kennedy reported the "mood of defiance" was reflected by London Marathon Charitable Trust patron Prince Harry, who "handed the winners their medals." Prince Harry: “It’s fantastic, typically British. People are saying they haven’t seen crowds like this for eight years around the route. It’s remarkable to see.” The prince added it was “never an option” for him to cancel his appearance. Prince Harry: “No one has changed any plans, volunteers, security, nothing has changed” (LONDON TIMES, 4/22). In London, Anna Kessel wrote athletes "attacked the London Marathon race organisers" after a dangerous crash happened between a men's wheelchair racer and a top woman runner a drinks station around the 15km mark. Olympic champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia was effectively "taken out of the race" as she collided with wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy. Gelana got to her feet and continued but the "damage had already been done" and, as with Cassidy, the 25-year-old "ultimately never recovered." A furious Cassidy blasted race organisers. Cassidy: "It's something I have mentioned before. I don't know who's responsible but every year we come to overtake the women, there's 10 chairs going at 20mph and the poor women are scrambling to find their feet" (GUARDIAN, 4/21).
WAKE-UP CALL: The PA reported British Gold Medalist Mo Farah revealed that comments he had overslept before running in the London Marathon were "just a joke" and said he had been "one of the first athletes" on the bus. Asked how he was feeling, the 30-year-old Londoner said as he ran down the street, "Yeah, feeling good." And had he warmed up? "Not yet!" he replied. "I'm late! I woke up late! I'm going to miss the bus!" he laughed. However, the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion later tweeted: "Just to clarify, I had breakfast at 5am today, my comment about sleeping in was just a joke. I was one of the first athletes on the bus to the start" (PA, 4/21).
PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: The CNA reported Taiwan's National Security Bureau said that "the government will step up its counter-terrorism measures" for the 2017 Universiade in Taipei. Bureau Deputy Chief Wang Teh-lin said that "the bureau will work closely with the Cabinet and the Taipei city government to tighten security for the Universiade and ensure that the event proceeds safely and peacefully" (CNA, 4/19).