LONDON: The race was in London, but the thoughts of many were with another city.
Thousands of runners who took part in the London Marathon on Sunday paid tribute to those killed and injured in the Boston Marathon six days earlier. Participants paused for a moment of silence in the beginning, many wore black ribbons on their chests as a sign of solidarity, and two runners finished carrying a banner that read “For Boston.”
The mood was festive, defiant — and the surging crowds who turned out on the glorious spring day to line the route roared enthusiastically.
“It means that runners are stronger than bombers,” said Valerie Bloomfield, a 40-year-old participant from France.
London’s is the first major international marathon since two bombs exploded near the finish line in Boston. The blasts killed three people and wounded 180, and an MIT policeman died during the search for the bombers. One suspect died in a shootout with police, while a second was caught.
Some 35,000 runners took part in the London race, which also drew tens of thousands of spectators — many regulars said it was the biggest and most enthusiastic crowd in years.
Many said they made a point of turning up to show they were not afraid.
“We can’t look back. We must look forward,” said Tomasz Hamerlak of Poland, who finished fourth in the men’s wheelchair race and who had competed in Boston last week. “The show must go on.”
Authorities in London boosted the police presence by 40 percent and added extra surveillance as precautionary measures, but in the end all went peacefully.
In the Middle East, meanwhile, hundreds of people on Sunday took part in the West Bank’s first marathon, looping around the biblical city of Bethlehem four times on a course that was limited by the confines of Israel’s sprawling separation barrier.
The race was meant as a political statement on Palestinian statehood as much as a sporting event.
One participant wore a T-shirt honoring the victims killed in last week’s bombing at the Boston Marathon, while other runners waved slogans in support of Palestinians. The area was decorated with green, white and red balloons symbolizing the Palestinian flag.
About 1,000 people participated in the race.
In New York, thousands donned “I Run for Boston” bibs during a 4-mile run Sunday in Central Park.
“It was really quite a powerful morning,” said Mary Wittenberg, CEO of the New York Road Runners.
Wittenberg said later Sunday at another run dedicated to victims that she had been in close communication with Boston Marathon organizers.
“This is one community,” Wittenberg said. “After 9/11, we were all New Yorkers. After last Monday, we’re all Bostonians. And I just want to add, I think now we’ve got one world of runners.”
Other runs honoring the Boston victims have been held in St. Louis and San Francisco as well as Lansing, Mich., and Burlington, Vt.