The Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Boston Marathon, said Thursday that thousands of runners who were stopped because of the attacks during this year's race will be able to race in 2014.
More than 5,600 runners were halted and the race was put on hold when two bombs exploded on Boylston Street near the finish line at about 2:50 p.m.
Despite requests and pleas from runners who had trained for months to partake in the historic race, it was unclear for a while whether those who were stopped would be able to compete in 2014. The registration process for the Marathon can be difficult as tens of thousands of people try to sign up each year for a limited field.
Metro reported earlier this month that one runner had started an online petition that asked the association to allow stopped runners to bypass the registration process. That petition had more than 28,000 signatures as of Thursday morning. At the time, a B.A.A. spokesman was noncommittal and said there were many logistical factors to changing the structure of such a large race.
But on Thursday, the B.A.A. said it would allow official entrants who started this year's race, reached the half marathon mark and were stopped after that, the chance to compete in 2014.
"The opportunity to run down Boylston Street and to cross the finish line amid thousands of spectators is a significant part of the entire Boston Marathon experience," said Tom Grilk, the B.A.A. executive director. "With the opportunity to return and participate in 2014, we look forward to inviting back these athletes and we expect that most will renew their marathon training commitment. Boston spectators are known for their impassioned support and unbridled enthusiasm, and they will give these returning athletes some of the loudest cheers at next year's race. We want to thank our participants for their patience as we continue to work through the details of arranging this accommodation for them, and we ask for continued patience from the running community as we plan the 2014 Boston Marathon next April."
Those who were unable to cross the finish line will receive a non-transferable unique code in August to be used for entry. The applicant's entry will be guaranteed only during a designated registration period. Participants will be required to pay an entry fee.
Registration for the 2014 Marathon opens in September and there has yet to be determined a maximum field size.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.