Skip to main content

Runners start London Marathon with moment of silence for Boston victims

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
April 21, 2013 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
  • NEW: Double winner of women's wheelchair race dedicates her victory to Boston victims
  • NEW: Supporters voice solidarity with Boston as they cheer on the London runners
  • Runners joined a 30-second start-line silence in tribute to the Boston bombing
  • Security is ramped up for the event, with more police on the streets

London (CNN) -- Despite the spring sunshine, the start of the London Marathon on Sunday was a somber occasion.

Thousands of runners joined in a 30-second silence on the start line to remember those killed and injured by the blasts near the finish of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Before the tribute, signaled by a whistle blast, an announcer told the massed runners: "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 runners, many also wearing black ribbons as a Boston tribute, then poured over the start line to begin the 26.2-mile race.

Boston wheelchair champ racing in London
Open Mic: London Marathon
Security increased for London Marathon

Along the route, the mood became more festive, with loud cheers and applause for the passing runners from the spectators lining the barriers.

Prince Harry also made an appearance, visiting the finish line to show his support for the race stewards.

READ MORE: Silence falls over London Marathon

Tatyana McFadden, who won the women's wheelchair marathons in London on Sunday and in Boston last week, dedicated her Sunday victory to those who died or suffered in last week's Boston bombings.

"We hope such small acts will help the healing process. Other efforts are in the works," her mother, Deborah, told CNN.

McFadden, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, spent her early years in a Russian orphanage -- walking on her hands because she had no wheelchair -- but embraced athletics after she was adopted and brought to the United States by her new family.

The winner of the men's wheelchair race was Australia's Kurt Fearnley, and the winning runner in the men's elite race was Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia.

The first-placed runner in the elite women's event was Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya. Fellow countrywoman Edna Kiplagat came in second.

The race is being staged amid heightened security, as police take extra precautions after the Boston Marathon bombing six days ago.

Although some spectators admitted to slight apprehension about coming out Sunday, the prevailing mood seemed one of solidarity.

"If you live your life just scared of what's going to happen, you won't do much," one man near the finish line told CNN. "I think it's important everyone comes and just shows that there are thousands of people who are here for the right intentions."

More than three-quarters of those taking part in Sunday's race are raising money for charity.

Race organizers are also donating 2 British pounds to the One Fund Boston -- set up to help those most affected by the Boston bombing -- for each runner to cross the finish line.

With about 35,000 runners, that's expected to come to about $100,000.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson tweeted Sunday to wish all those involved in the event good luck and "a great day out," adding, "@bostonmarathon our thoughts are with you today."

Race director Hugh Brasher urged participants in an e-mail Friday not to lose sight of what the London Marathon stands for.

"One of the original aims of the London Marathon was 'to provide some fun and a sense of achievement in a troubled world,' " he wrote.

"Following the tragic events in Boston earlier this week, that goal will be even more meaningful when the running community comes together on the start line of this Sunday's race."

Several hundred additional officers were on the streets for the event, a move the Metropolitan Police said was intended to "provide visible reassurance to the participants and spectators."

Police also appealed for anyone there to take extra care with their belongings, to avoid sparking security scares.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators usually turn out to support those taking part in the race.

WATCH: Boston wheelchair champ races London

Chief Supt. Julia Pendry, police commander for the event, said police worked with the organizers, partners and other emergency services to ensure the right plans were in place.

"Following the terrible events in Boston, we are providing additional visible reassurance to the public in what is naturally a worrying time," she said.

"I would stress there is no change to the threat level to London and nothing at this stage to link the Boston bombings to the London marathon."

Will Geddes, managing director of threat management company International Corporate Protection, told CNN this week that it is "very difficult" to secure a marathon because of the length of the route.

Any potential terrorist "will be looking for the largest number of casualties they can achieve, so the start point and the finish point will no doubt be two areas the Metropolitan Police will be focusing on and how they can secure those," he said. But, he added, "to a certain degree, there is only so much they can do."

The course, which starts in southeast London, wends through the Canary Wharf business district and passes by some of the capital's most famous landmarks, including Tower Bridge and Westminster, before finishing near Buckingham Palace.

Last summer, authorities implemented a huge security plan to keep the city safe during the London Olympics.

And they sought to reassure the public ahead of Sunday's race, with calls for supporters to come out in droves to show solidarity after the tragic events in Boston.

Sport Minister Hugh Robertson told the UK public broadcaster, the BBC, "The best way for us to react is to push ahead with the marathon, to get people on the streets and to celebrate it as we always do in London -- and to send a very clear message that we won't be cowed by this sort of behavior."

The London Marathon's chief executive, Nigel Bitel, also said, "It's a great occasion, the London Marathon, and I know that people will want to come out and send a message of support to runners on the day."

CNN's Erin McLaughlin and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Boston Marathon Bombings
Survivors of three earlier bombings describe their journeys forward — and offer poignant words for those just one year away from the day that changed their lives.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 0615 GMT (1415 HKT)
"United, we will always persevere." That was the message Massachusetts shared on the anniversary of twin bombings that turned last year's Boston Marathon from a celebration into a day of horror.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1847 GMT (0247 HKT)
I'm running it to make a simple statement: Acts of cowardice will not stop me from exercising my rights as an athlete and a human.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1940 GMT (0340 HKT)
Many of those whose lives were shattered are still struggling to put the pieces back together. Here are some of the victims, as well as larger funds, who continue to need your support.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
As April 15 approaches, the fact that we tell time in circles brings us to remember the attack on the Boston Marathon one year ago.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 0247 GMT (1047 HKT)
CNN's Bill Weir talks to Carlos Arredondo about helping those injured immediately after the Boston Marathon bombing.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
By running in response to the tragedy, we weren't attempting to negate the irreparable harm done to the people of Boston last year. We wanted to do something, anything, to try to process it.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
All of our assumptions have turned out to be wrong. Here are four things we've learned since then:
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 2017 GMT (0417 HKT)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been frozen in the public mind by four images.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 2322 GMT (0722 HKT)
Adrianne Haslet-Davis' life as a dancer was shattered last year at the Boston Marathon bombings.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
A man who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon attack is engaged to the woman he was waiting for at the finish line.
April 17, 2013 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
Mistaken identity in the hospital added to her family's grief.
April 24, 2013 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
The slain MIT cop "was born to be a police officer."
April 19, 2013 -- Updated 0237 GMT (1037 HKT)
The graduate student from China followed her passion to Boston.
April 17, 2013 -- Updated 0510 GMT (1310 HKT)
Almost a year ago, 8-year-old Martin Richard wrote four simple words on a sign at school: No more hurting people.
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Mery Daniel couldn't wait for Marathon. It was one of the things the aspiring doctor and Haitian immigrant loved most about living in Boston.
May 2, 2013 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
After twin blasts shook Boston -- killing three and wounding more than 260 others -- investigators sprung into action looking for those responsible.
April 28, 2013 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
The black Mercedes SUV sped down Spruce Street going about 70 mph, the driver struggling to maintain control. The vehicle had a busted headlight and flat tire.
Click through our galleries of the Boston Marathon bombing, from perspectives on the attack to the suspects, as well as the manhunt and celebrations in Boston after both suspects were found.