Boston Bombing: London, Hamburg Marathons Pay Tribute to Victims

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The local TV coverage of Sunday marathons in London and Hamburg, Germany featured tributes to the victims of the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

In Hamburg, there were briefly fears of a repeat of the bombings in Boston when a suspicious package was discovered at a subway station near the marathon route. The police soon gave the all-clear though, and the race, one of the largest in Germany, ended without any incidents.

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Hamburg's runners held a moment of silence before the race to honor the victims in Boston. The participants, about 15,000 runners, wore yellow armbands with the words "Run for Boston" in solidarity. Kenyan Olympic runner Eliud Kipchoge won the men's race with a new track record of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 29 seconds.

The BBC started its live reporting from the London Marathon, with an estimated more than 35,000 runners, at 8:30 a.m. local time with video highlights from the event's past and about 10 minutes of discussion about the Boston tragedy.

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An opening segment briefly mentioned the challenges of running a marathon and of reaching the finish line. "Six days ago though, the finish of the Boston Marathon became an altogether different scene as triumph turned into terror," the voice-over said. "And today as hundreds of thousands take to the streets to run, support, to cheer, their thoughts will inevitably never be far away from those horrific scenes and those whose lives were irrevocably changed. The 2013 London Marathon -- a day to celebrate the strength of the human spirit and a day to remember."

Another marathon video followed that opened with the lines: "All of life is like a race -- with ups and downs. All you have to do to win is rise each time."
 
After the video, host Jonathan Edwards also addressed the Boston bombings: "Good morning to our coverage of the 33rd London Marathon, a day that always covers the gamut of emotions, but which today has another dimension in the wake of the atrocities in Boston." The global running community was out in force to chase fast times, raise money for charities as is tradition and show "solidarity with the victims of Boston."

A video then paid tribute to the three dead and more than 170 injured in the Boston bombing. "The images left a city shocked and bewildered as a nation and global audience watched on in disbelief" about "a senseless act of terror," the voice-over narrated. "Today, London stands united with Boston, remembering lives lost and lives devastated."

The BBC announcer said that there was a sense in the British capital "that the proper response is to run the race to celebrate marathon day." On a day full of sunshine, thousands of supporters were shown lining the running route, which finished near Buckingham Palace.

In an interview, David Bedford, who oversees international relations for the London Marathon, said his team has worked with many people in Boston over the years. "There were so many people we were concerned about when we heard the shocking news," he said. "It was difficult to take it all in. Looking back now, thank God it wasn't any worse than it was. It could have been absolute shocking -- it was really bad. And our hearts and thoughts are with them and have been all week.

London Marathon CEO Nick Bitel said the past week has been busy for his team. "We had an amazing response from police, the mayor, other security agencies, also the wider community. We had to change a little bit; we put some more security measures in," he said, adding it was great to see how much people value the London Marathon. "London is a city that is well used to living with these kind of threats. We have a very practiced procedure through our police. And I know people will respond very positively today -- come out and uproot the runners, cheer them on."

The TV network talked to its reporters at the finish line, with its anchor emphasizing that "all the attention will be on the finish today -- for the right reasons and the wrong reasons as well."

One of the reporters summarized that many people in London and elsewhere felt the Boston bombing "wasn't an attack on a marathon and running, but humanity." In the British capital,  "people want to go for a run and challenge themselves. I think we'll see today that London will respond" on a sunny day that, he said, made the city look "glorious."

The BBC then focused on the actual races before returning to the topic of Boston about an hour into its coverage with an interview with three British runners who participated in the Boston Marathon. They all wore black ribbons to pay tribute to the Boston victims and jerseys handed out to people who finished the Boston race.

"We were completely overwhelmed by the people of Boston and how they treated us runners that day," a woman said. A male runner added about Sunday's race in London: "It's up to us to say we're better than this -- the runners and supporters are far better than those idiots."

Before the 10 a.m. start of the men's marathon, runners and supporters stood in silence for 30 seconds in another Boston tribute. The silence was followed by applause as runners were shown wearing T-shirts and holding banners with Boston references. For example, two runners at the start held up a banner that said, "For Boston."

The London Marathon's Twitter account early in the day also posted a picture of celebrities before their attempt to run the 26.2 miles. "Like everyone else, it was just so devastating to see that on the news," singer Katherine Jenkins said about the Boston tragedy. "But I think we all feel more than ever that we want to do this and show our support for Boston."

Richard Branson, whose Virgin is the sponsor of the marathon, was seen ringing a cowbell during the race. "Incredible crowds at the Virgin London Marathon," he also tweeted. "Keep cheering, your support makes all the difference!"

Prince Harry, who was on hand to congratulate the winners, told the BBC after the race that people had told him the race had its biggest crowds in eight years. "It's a very British reaction" to the Boston bombing. "The way that Boston has dealt with it has been absolutely remarkable -- it's not going to get anyone down here." Asked if he had considered missing out on appearing at the finish line after the race, he said: "It was never an option."

U.S. Paralympian Tatyana McFadden won the women's wheelchair race in London just days after her victory in Boston that had come just before the bombings.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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