Pinoys return to Boston Marathon in defiance of 2013 attacks

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

April 21, 2014

BOSTON, Mass. – A makeshift memorial at the Boston marathon finish line is a haunting reminder of the three lives lost and 264 others who were injured when two homemade bombs exploded at around 2:49 p.m. on April 15 last year.

“It’s so sad because so many people got hurt and lost their lives,” Boston resident Bunny Ortigas said. “I was afraid because we always thought Boston was safe. But then the marathon happened.”

But just a day before the 2014 Boston Marathon, hundreds of runners and spectators from around the world gathered here to show that Boston is strong and that there is no stopping the 2014 Boston Marathon.

For many of this year’s Boston Marathon runners, it’s all about unfinished business and they are determined to cross this finish line this time.

Eleven-time Boston marathoner Dawn Vonderheide from California was just a few blocks away from the finish line when the bombs exploded. She was among hundreds who never made it to the finish line.

“We’re all here, we’re not letting anybody stop us,” Vonderheide said. “We’re going to take care of business. So instead of being denied to finish, we’re all going to finish and be victorious.”

Four-time Boston marathoner Leica Carpo and her sister Amanda, who is now on her fifth-time running for the Philippines, saw what tragedy looks like. They were just two blocks away from the finish line when they heard the twin explosions.

“I’m excited about the race,” Amanda Carpo said. “I think it’s going to be an emotional race for everybody.”

“It’s maybe faith that it’s not going to happen again,” Leica Carpo said. “Also, we’ll keep running these marathons. It’s a beautiful thing to have these races.”

With more than 36,000 marathoners expected to run the 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon course, officials here say they left no stones unturned when it comes to security.

No backpacks will be allowed on the course this year.

The suspected sibling bombers carried pressure cooker bombs in their backpacks.

Containers with more than 1 liter of liquids, costumes or masks covering the face and bulky clothes are banned as well.

Unregistered runners and cyclists are not welcome to jump into the race either.

With 3,500 police officers scattered among the crowd, 100 additional security cameras and bomb sniffing canines visible all day, kababayans here say they feel safe.

“We’re not scared of terrorists and bombings,” Alicia Silverio of Toronto, Canada said. “We’re tough and you can’t knock us down.”

“It only means that the human spirit is bigger than two bombs or whatever,” Suzane O’Connor of Cambridge, Mass. said. “You know the comeback is – ‘No, no, no we’re not scared’.”

At the end of day, with an estimated $175.8 million in revenues, the Greater Boston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau say this is highest expected amount of money expected to be pumped into the local economy for a Boston Marathon.

You can contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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