For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face of the renowned race has been changed forever.Today, millions will watch as thousands of runners, some elite, some first-timers, push themselves along the famous 26.2-mile route. Runners have not only picked themselves up and dusted themselves off following the tragic events of last year, they have rallied in spirit."After the bombings last year we all felt vulnerable, not only as citizens but as runners," said Brian Metzler, editor-in-chief of Competitor magazine. "The act of running road races has been an expression of freedom. That's still the case, but last year opened a lot of eyes."
That's not all bad according to Metzler, who points tot he massive outpouring of participation this year. More than 35,660 official participants are expected to tackle today's race.
"There was much more interest in qualifying for Boston over the past year," said Metzler. "Even the half marathon numbers were up; running has continued to soar. It would be much worse if the numbers went down."
The immense starting field size, which is the largest since the 1996 centennial marathon begs questions of whether runners today will be hindered by cramped roads and crowds.
"Because the [Boston Athletic Association] has been through this before with the centennial they know what it takes to pull off a big race," Metzler added.
"Certainly it's going to be a bigger organisational endeavour - but as far as runners go I don't think they'll feel too much of an impact."
In the opinion of Richard Johnson, curator of the Sports Museum, last year's bombing changed the race 'not a bit.'
"I think it's the world that has changed, not the race," Johnson said. "The Boston Marathon is the event of the year here. What happened last year makes the Marathon all the more important as a refuge, a symbol of all that's good about sports and community.
"I don't think the world is ever going to go back to normal - not only after the events of a year ago, but of 9/11.
"It's part of the larger world - the larger world intruded upon the sanctity of the Boston Marathon. I think it will now be more precious to us as a communal event."