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As It Happened: American Wins 118th Running Of The Boston Marathon

NPR | April 21, 2014 4:11 p.m.

Contributed By:

Eyder Peralta

Boylston Street's 26-mile marker will be a welcome sight to the thousands of runners who are in today's Boston Marathon. Today marks the 118th running of the race.

Boylston Street's 26-mile marker will be a welcome sight to the thousands of runners who are in today's Boston Marathon. Today marks the 118th running of the race.

Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

There is no doubt the bombings of last year are casting a long shadow on the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

It is an inevitable backdrop: The signs on the buildings that line the course near the finish are usually covered in witty, encouraging posters. This year, they encourage a greater kind of perseverance.

“Boston Strong,” they exhort.

At the finish line on Boyslton Street, a small makeshift memorial has been erected: Four crosses with the names of the four people who died because of last year’s attack.

But at the same time, there is also a feeling of celebration in the city. This is New England’s biggest sporting event, after all, and the world’s oldest and most prestigious 26.2-mile road race.

There’s music and laughter, and mother nature — with its daffodils and tulips and glorious yellow willows — seems willing to join in.

As historian Tom Derderian told us, after the bombings, the Boston Marathon has become about runners and spectators “putting themselves at risk in defiance” of terrorism.

Throughout the day, we’ll be fanned across the Boston area, bringing you vignettes from key points on the course: Hopkinton, Wellesley, Heartbreak Hill and the finish line. We’ll update this post as the action unfolds, so make sure to refresh the page.

Mile 0: Hopkinton

The race starts at the town of Hopkinton. Mobility impaired racers set off at 8:50 a.m., followed by wheelchairs and handcycles. The elite women leave the starting line around 9:30 a.m.

The large masses of runners that are often seen in photos of the start will leave in four waves of 9,000 competitors each, following the elite men’s field at 10 a.m.

Mile 13: Wellesley

We’ll update at around 11 a.m. ET.

This is probably the loudest part of the marathon course, because for years, the women of Wellesley College have lined up along the road to scream encouragement to the runners.

It’s been described as “a tunnel of sound” at the race’s midway point.

The Elites

We’ll update around Noon ET.

The United States has its best chance at a winner in many years, yet that chance is still a slim one. No American has finished first in the men’s division since Gregory Meyer won in 1983. The last American woman to win was Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985.

This year, Ryan Hall and Desiree Davila Linden are both coming off injuries. Linden came in second in 2011 when she set the American course record with a time of 2:22:38.

Hall holds the American men’s course record at Boston with a time of 2:04:58. Meb Keflezighi, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist, is also competing.

Last year’s men’s winner, Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, is still ranked No. 1 by Track & Field News.

The elite women start at 9:30 a.m. ET. The men start at 10 a.m. ET.

Mile 20: Heartbreak Hill

We’ll update at around 2 p.m. ET.

This is the cruel part of the Boston Marathon. It’s the last of a series of hills in Newton, Mass., that comes a little after mile 20, when runners have depleted their easily accessible fuel and their bodies have to turn to burning fat.

This stretch of road got its name from a Boston Globe reporter covering the 1936 race in which the defending champion — Johnny A. Kelley — lost his race on the hill.

Mile 26.2: The Finish

We’ll update at around 4 p.m. ET.

After Heartbreak Hill, this is no doubt the most iconic part of the marathon. The runners descend upon the city flanked by big high-rises. They arrive at Boylston Street, where they’re greeted by throngs of spectators and the majestic bells of the Old South Church.

For other tips on following today’s race, see our brief guide.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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