Boston bombings cast shadow over London Marathon
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah will also run in the London Marathon. AP photoLondon Marathon will take place on April 21 amid a climate of heightened security and increased vigilance following the fatal bomb attacks that plunged the Boston Marathon into tragedy.
The twin blasts that killed three and wounded more than 180 in Boston on April 15 have prompted organisers of the London race to ramp up security measures in a bid to reassure runners and the half a million spectators expected to line the route.
Extra police will patrol the course, which snakes alongside the River Thames and passes iconic landmarks including Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Queen Elizabeth II’s Buckingham Palace residence, as well as the huge Canary Wharf business development.
With the perpetrators of the Boston carnage still at large, the British government has promised to take no shortcuts in its attempts to secure the safety of all those involved on April 21.
“The London Marathon is a regular event. The organizers have a good record in terms of venue security, such as you can for an event that covers 26 miles,” said Home Secretary Theresa May. “The police have looked at their arrangements. I believe they have made a number of adjustments to the arrangements that will be in place for the event.” Fears of a serious incident have receded slightly after the funeral procession of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher through the streets of the British capital on April 17 passed off without incident. However, thoughts of the Boston horror will inevitably linger over the race, which will be preceded by a 30-second period of silence to remember the victims of the attacks.
Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana, who won the women’s marathon at last year’s London Olympics, admits it has been difficult to focus her mind on the race after the devastating scenes in Boston.
“It is not so easy. As a human being, you feel sorry for the people affected because of what happened. You think about it now and then,” she said. “But I am here to run, I am an athlete. You come to London and London is a big marathon to win.”
The elite races boast world-class fields, with all three men’s medallists from last year’s Olympic marathon set to do battle once again, alongside Kenyan world record-holder Patrick Makau.
Olympic star Mo Farah, who triumphed in the 5,000 metres and the 10,000 metres at the 2012 Games, will also be in action, but he will complete half the course.
He said he had no doubts about competing despite the attacks. “My support goes out to all the people involved, their families and loved ones,” he said. “But they would want us to carry on and show our support. Why would you let it stop you?”