Runners reclaim Boston Marathon one year after attacks

Runners make their way to the finish line during the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Runners make their way to the finish line during the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Meb Keflezighi of the US reacts as he wins the men's division at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Meb Keflezighi of the US reacts as he wins the men's division at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Boston Marathon icons Dick Hoyt and his son Rick (in wheelchair) finish the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Boston Marathon icons Dick Hoyt and his son Rick (in wheelchair) finish the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis (centre) crosses the Boston Marathon finish line with her twin older brothers Timothy (left) and David Haslet in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis (centre) crosses the Boston Marathon finish line with her twin older brothers Timothy (left) and David Haslet in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A man holds up a Boston Strong poster along the race course during the 2014 Boston Marathon. -- PHOTO: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
A man holds up a Boston Strong poster along the race course during the 2014 Boston Marathon. -- PHOTO: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Martin Fierro carries a Boston Strong banner across the finish line during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Martin Fierro carries a Boston Strong banner across the finish line during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Boston Marathon bombing survivors Patrick Downes (left) and Jessica Kensky cross the finish line at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Boston Marathon bombing survivors Patrick Downes (left) and Jessica Kensky cross the finish line at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The crowd at the site of the first bomb blast cheers after a moment of silence for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The crowd at the site of the first bomb blast cheers after a moment of silence for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A runner kisses the finish line after completing the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 21, 2014. Tens of thousands of runners, cheered by a multitude of spectators, streamed through the streets of Boston on Monday to reclaim t
A runner kisses the finish line after completing the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 21, 2014. Tens of thousands of runners, cheered by a multitude of spectators, streamed through the streets of Boston on Monday to reclaim the world's oldest marathon from the fear left by last year's deadly twin bombing. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A handmade memorial to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings stands at the site of the first bomb blast as the crowd marks the time that the bomb exploded one year ago, during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston. -- PHOTO: R
A handmade memorial to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings stands at the site of the first bomb blast as the crowd marks the time that the bomb exploded one year ago, during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A runner casts a shadow as he makes his way across the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A runner casts a shadow as he makes his way across the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Fans with a Boston Strong poster cheer on runners as they finish the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. -- PHOTO: AFP
Fans with a Boston Strong poster cheer on runners as they finish the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. -- PHOTO: AFP
First responder Carlos Arredondo cheers on finishers of the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. -- PHOTO: AFP
First responder Carlos Arredondo cheers on finishers of the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. -- PHOTO: AFP
Banners hang from the Trinity Church near the finish line on the eve of the 2014 Boston Marathon on April 20, 2014 in Boston, Massachussetts. -- PHOTO: AFP
Banners hang from the Trinity Church near the finish line on the eve of the 2014 Boston Marathon on April 20, 2014 in Boston, Massachussetts. -- PHOTO: AFP
Spectators cheer on Boylston Street during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Spectators cheer on Boylston Street during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The crowd at the site of the first bomb blast cheers after a moment of silence for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The crowd at the site of the first bomb blast cheers after a moment of silence for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings during the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2013 Boston Marathon survivors Celeste (2nd left) and Sydney Corcoran (centre) cross the finish line with Celeste's sister Carmen Acabbo, who ran the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2013 Boston Marathon survivors Celeste (2nd left) and Sydney Corcoran (centre) cross the finish line with Celeste's sister Carmen Acabbo, who ran the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts on April 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BOSTON (AFP) - Tens of thousands of runners, cheered by a multitude of spectators, streamed through the streets of Boston on Monday to reclaim the world's oldest marathon from the fear left by last year's deadly twin bombing.

More than 3,500 police, double the size of the force last year, kept watch to prevent any replay of the ghastly carnage that devastated the race on April 15, 2013, when two explosive devices tore through the crowds at the finish line.

Three people were killed and 264 injured in a rain of shrapnel.

The festive atmosphere was only heightened when Meb Keflezighi became the first American man since 1983 to win the event. Kenya's Rita Jeptoo won her second women's title in a row and third overall.

The Eritrea-born Keflezighi said he hoped his victory would help the city heal, in the way Boston's beloved Red Sox triumphed in the World Series last year.

"It was my dream to win Boston and to make it just like the Red Sox did and do the same thing for the people," Keflezighi said.

Amby Burfoot, the 1968 winner who was running Monday at age 67 after being kept from finishing the 2013 race because of the attack, highlighted the "very resilient" nature of the competitors - and the city.

"At the end of the day, we all say Boston lives, Boston strong, Boston endures forever," he told Agence France-Presse.

MOMENT OF SILENCE

A moment of silence was observed at the starting line in Hopkinton, just before the first wave of runners set off on the 42km course through Boston.

Disabled participants in wheelchairs were the first to go, followed by the elite runners.

A clear blue sky, sunshine and cool weather greeted the participants - 36,000 runners from all over the world, 9,000 more than last year and near the record 38,708 on the marathon's centenary in 1996.

A series of draconian safety measures were imposed for this year's event, including a "no backpack" rule.

The Chechen brothers who allegedly carried out the 2013 attack, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, hid pressure-cooker bombs in their backpacks.

"We've tried to strike a balance between enhanced security and preserving the family feel of this day," Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said.

'WE WILL NEVER FORGET THEM'

Across the city, people could be seen wearing "Boston Strong" shirts, with banners bearing the mantra proudly displayed in stores, restaurants and hotels.

"We don't let terrorists win here. We come back, doesn't matter - they aren't going to stop us," said Rudy Duplissis, who came with his wife Claire to watch their daughter Leah run her third marathon.

As they did last year, the couple set up folding chairs near the finish line.

"They took enough precautions - I feel safe," said Claire.

Chicago native Kevin Havel, 24, ran the race - which coincides with the state's Patriots' Day - for the first time.

"I loved the crowd here. I didn't know what to expect but every mile people cheered and I think that pushed me to the finish," Havel told AFP.

"I will definitely be back."

FANS THE 'STAR ATTRACTION'

Several former winners were also taking part on Monday, including America's Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won in 1979 and 1983, and last year's winner, Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa.

The 24-year-old Desisa has met several victims of the attacks, calling them "an inspiration", and has said he will be running again to show that he has no fear.

Run every year since 1897, the Boston Marathon is one of the six biggest foot races in the world and part of the prestigious World Marathon Majors circuit.

"The fans are the star attraction," said Burfoot. "We are 36,000 runners and we are lucky because we are going down the middle of a parade, with fans on both sides of the road."

The Tsarnaev brothers were identified as perpetrators of the attacks within days, thanks to footage from cameras and thousands of photographs.

Tamerlan, 26, was shot by police on April 19, 2013, after killing an officer and Dzhokhar, now 20, was captured and stands accused of 30 federal charges. He is awaiting trial and could face the death penalty if convicted.