Boston marathon honours bomb victims

Nick Bryant reports as 36,000 people got off the starting blocks

Thousands of marathoners have taken to the streets of Boston, as the city honoured three killed and more than 260 injured in a bomb attack last year.

Dignitaries, spectators and more than 36,000 runners observed a moment of silence before the race began.

The heavy security operation included a ban on rucksacks and screening at checkpoints.

US runner Meb Keflezighi and Rita Jeptoo from Kenya won the men's and women's races.

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Boston says that the marathon had never been run amid so many layers of security, as 500,000 are expected to watch the activities.

At the scene

The rising sun first starts warming spectators on the same spot where the bombs exploded last year.

Today it is a popular spot. But many here chose the location as an act of defiance, and emotions are still high.

One woman said she broke into tears when she arrived.

And she expects more tears as the day moves on.

Police mobilsation

Athletes with disabilities were the first competitors to set off, at 08:50 local time (12:50 GMT).

The elite women's race started at 09:32, with the elite men setting off half an hour later, followed by thousands of other runners.

Keflezighi won the men's race, clocking in at 2 hours, 8 minutes and 37 seconds.

He is the first US runner to take the title since 1985.

Jeptoo was the first to cross the finish line in the women's race, marking her third win in the competition.

Men's winner Meb Keflezighi: "I kept thinking 'Boston strong'"

She finished the course in a record 2 hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds.

The 26.2-mile (42.2km) route was tightly guarded in a massive mobilisation of law enforcement agencies, including police units, bomb squads and tactical assault teams from other states.

The Boston police department erected 8,000 steel barricades, 1,200 more than last year.

Before the race, runner Katie O'Donnell, who competed in last year's race, said she could not imagine the range of emotions she would feel this year.

"I think I'm going to start crying at the starting line and I'm not sure I'll stop until I cross the finish line," she said.

Spectators said they felt solidarity as they cheered on the runners

Elite runners race during the 2014 Boston Marathon on 21 April 2014 Elite runners set the pace early in the race
A runner gives a high fives a supporter at the beginning of the Boston Marathon on 21 April 2014 Hundreds of thousands of supporters turned out to cheer for those competing in the race
Mobility impaired runners leave the start line at the Boston Marathon, April 21 Athletes with disabilities were the first to cross the starting line
A visitor hangs a message on a tree at the Dear Boston exhibit at the Boston Public Library, 20 April The run-up to the event was dominated by tributes to the victims of the bombing

Many people in the city have been wearing "Boston Strong" T-shirts.

Last year's winner of the men's elite race, Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, is competing again and has met several victims of the blast.

He said the victims had given him inspiration: "We have to look to the future. There has to be a resilience. I am ready to win again."

Running duo Natalie Stavas and her father Joe recall last year's Boston marathon bombing

Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, is due to stand trial in November. He has pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, including 17 that carry the death penalty.

Prosecutors allege that he set off two pressure cooker bombs with his older brother Tamerlan, 26, who later died in a police shootout.

BBC News presenter Sophie Raworth ran for her colleague George Alagiah, who was recently diagnosed with cancer

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