Early Sunday afternoon, Hammett stepped out of the Monument subway station wearing his jacket from the 100th Boston Marathon and a Red Sox hat. He wanted to show some Boston pride.
When asked if he was surprised to see how normal the scene looked, how the crowd support matched what is typical in Boston, Hammett said, “That’s the way it should be. That’s the way it was in Boston. That’s the way it will be in Boston next year. Even bigger. Next year, I think there will be more runners than were in the 100th. There will be so many more people who will want to come Boston next year.”
From a spot near Tower Bridge, Jonathan Rush and his 4-year-old daughter, Matilda, cheered runners. The pair made the short trip from Kent, England, specifically for the marathon, though they didn’t have any friends or relatives in the race. While Matilda shouted, “Keep it up. Keep going,” Jonathan said, “I had thought about Boston and security before, but I hadn’t thought about it today. It helps that the sun is shining.”
There was visibly increased security along the course, especially in popular viewing spots like the areas around Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. Metropolitan Police officers in neon yellow jackets looked closely at spectators and their bags. It was rare to walk more than 50 feet without seeing a pair of officers. Policemen also stayed vigilant just inside London Underground stations near the route. And it was equally easy to spot sniffer dogs near the same stations and around the finish area.
At Horse Guards Parade, essentially at the back door of the prime minister’s 10 Downing Street residence, there was a particularly heavy police presence as runners reunited with family and friends in the area. The approach to the actual finish line was a secured zone that required special credentials and a bag check. Prince Harry was among the spectators welcomed into the finish area, demonstrating the city’s high level of confidence in race security. Prince Harry told reporters he never considered cancelling his medal presentation appearance.
In marked contrast to Boston and Boylston Street, the London finish takes place on a wide boulevard flanked by Green Park and St. James’s Park and always heavily guarded royal residences St. James’s Palace and Clarence House. The buildings are set back a considerable distance from the roadway, making it easier to create a secure zone that covers the last 200 meters of the race. Still, crowds were thick and well-patrolled just before the London Marathon’s final stretch.
That approach to the finish was the fastest part of the marathon for Norman Ritchie. Throughout the race, when he would see runners in Boston shirts, Ritchie, of Houston, would slow down and talk about last Monday. He ran Boston this year.
At Mile 25 in London, Ritchie changed back into his 2013 Boston Marathon finisher’s shirt and ran his quickest mile.
“I really wanted to push it,” said Ritchie, who finished in 3:28:43. “I really had to come and do this race. You can’t let the terrorists stop what you’re doing. We have to keep on going. It’s to prove to them that no matter what they’re going to do we’re still going to rally together.”
Shira Springer can be reached at email@example.com.