Big crowds, black ribbons for Boston at London Marathon

Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:11pm EDT
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By Estelle Shirbon and Dasha Afanasieva

LONDON (Reuters) - 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.

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.

"The best ever! A lot of emotion because of the Boston marathon," said Nathan Comer, 38, catching his breath just after finishing his third London Marathon.

"The silence before the marathon was beautiful ... it just felt as if everyone was together," he said, referring to a 30-second silence held in honor of the Boston victims just before the start of the race.

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.

Small children reached out to high-five runners as they went past, spectators cheered elite and anonymous runners with equal enthusiasm, and a brass band near the starting line jokingly complained the boisterous crowds were drowning out their music.

"It was incredible, the amount of support, people coming out from everywhere, just cheering the whole way. Unbelievable," said a breathless Mo Farah, Britain's 5,000 and 10,000-metre Olympic champion, after running the first half of the course.

Farah ran half the route to prepare for competing next year.   Continued...

Spectators hold a placard in support of Boston as runners pass during the London Marathon in central London April 21, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh