London: The London Marathon runners fell silent at the start line Sunday in memory of those who died in the Boston bomb attacks. Amid tightened security to reassure the racers and crowd, there was a 30-second silence just before the start of the men's elite race and mass start at 10am.
Many of the 36,000 fun-runners, athletes and fundraisers wore black ribbons in a show of solidarity with those affected by the terror attacks at the finish of the Boston Marathon last Monday. Three people were killed and 180 injured in the Massachusetts blasts.
Virgin London Marathon has pledged to donate 2 pound sterling for every finisher in today's event to the One Fund Boston set up to raise money for victims of the explosions.
Organisers have stressed that as well as showing defiance and spirit in the showpiece event, the participants will have fun around the famous 26.2-mile course.
Geoff Wightman, the event commentator, announced over loudspeakers before the half-minute silence: "Marathon-running is a global sport. It unites runners and supporters on every continent in pursuit of a common challenge and in the spirit of friendship and fellowship.
"This week the world marathon family was shocked and saddened by the events at the Boston Marathon. In a few moments a whistle will sound and we will join together in silence to remember our friends and colleagues for whom a day of joy turned into a day of sadness. Let us now show our respect and support for the victims of the tragedy in Boston."
The silence appeared to be perfectly observed. Earlier, former director of the London Marathon David Bedford told the BBC: "We've had a fantastic response from our runners. There were many calls please carry on, please run the race."
The shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, said it was important to show that Britain would "carry on regardless" despite the Boston bombing. He told LBC 97.3 that his wife, the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, thought he was "completely mad" for running a second time, despite insisting "never again" after last year's race.
Balls, who is raising money for the charities Action for Stammering Children and Whizz-Kidz, said: "In politics sometimes doing a U-turn is the wise thing to do."
Katherine Jenkins, the Welsh singer, said she was running in memory of her father and to show solidarity with people affected by the bombings in the US.
"Like everyone else, it was just so devastating to see that on the news," she said. "But I think we all feel more than ever that we want to do this and show our support for Boston."
The 32-year-old said she had raised more than 22,000 pound sterling for a cancer care charity. She said: "I wanted to run it in support of Macmillan. My father passed away from cancer when I was 15 and the Macmillan nurses came and they were wonderful."
She added: "I really don't think of myself as an athletic person at all. I never in a million years thought I would do this. I'm glad that I am, but I am nervous."
Extra security had been put in place around the runners' bags, the race's baggage manager said this morning. Phil Keith said 34 articulated lorries would take the rucksacks of the thousands of runners from the start in Blackheath in south-east London to the finish on the Mall near Buckingham Palace in the centre of the capital.
The bombs that went off in Boston are believed to have been placed in rucksacks placed on the route. "It [security] is a problem but we have taken a lot of advice from the Metropolitan police," he told the BBC.
"We have increased the security around the baggage. It is all very safe. Everyone will be incredibly safe at the finish and at the start."
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