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Marathoners Take To Boston's Streets After Last Year's Bombing


Runners are getting in position for the 118th Boston Marathon today. They're picking up the tradition after last year's marathon was targeted by a bomb. NPR's Jeff Brady is in Boston and Jeff, what are you seeing?

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Well, I am in Boston Common and this is where runners are showing up, have been showing up since 5 a.m. this morning, to catch a line of yellow school buses out to Hopkinton. That's where the starting line is located. I've talked with a number of folks here and one I talked with was Doug Simmons of Collegeville, Pennsylvania. He ran last year and he said the atmosphere this year is just electric and he's having a lot of fun.

DOUG SIMMONS: We've been treated like celebrities everywhere you go, everybody knows you're running a marathon and no matter who you come across, people running, people not running, they wish you luck today and really just enjoy it and be in the moment, high-five people, enjoy, you know, what you see, what you hear and I can't wait to get started.

BRADY: And there are a lot of runners this year, near 36,000. That's 9,000 more than last year, Steve.

INSKEEP: Wow. You know, you're listening to that man just saying people wishing him good luck. That's a routine thing to say, but it must have so many more layers of meaning this year when you decide you're gonna go run in the Boston Marathon and someone wishes you well. Now, how much security do you see after last year's attack, Jeff?

BRADY: You know, I'm not seeing obvious security right here at Boston Common, but things are definitely different this year. There are a lot more rules. You see everyone carrying plastic bags and folks are sort of being herded into buses. You can't catch just any bus this year. You have to catch only your bus. But once we get down to that finish-up line, we're going to start seeing a lot of officers, about 3,000 police officers and members of the National Guard patrolling the route.

And on top of that, there'll be another 500 undercover officers along the route. So, a lot of security this year. They'll be watching from behind the crowd and looking for anything suspicious.

INSKEEP: What is that loudspeaker in the background, Jeff?

BRADY: Well, that's part of the new organization here and, of course, it's really loud, but it's telling the runners where to go and which busses to get on. Everybody has a color code on their bag and that tells them which bus to get on. You can't just catch any bus this year.

INSKEEP: Now, you're hanging out there with the runners or the perspective runners, but we're also hearing about the possibility of a larger crowd this year than last year. How do officials know that and how much bigger could it be?

BRADY: You know, there's this sense that people want to sort of defy what happened last year and show that that won't change this event and it won't make this event go away. The Boston Athletic Association is predicting there will be one million spectators along that 25.2 mile marathon route this year. That's about twice the usual number. And there's tradition in Boston of spectators at the finish line, but this year, police say if too many people get there, they're going to limit people into that area.

INSKEEP: OK. Jeff, thanks very much. We'll continue checking in with you throughout the morning. Glad you're there.

BRADY: All right. Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Jeff Brady in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.

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