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Editorial: Taking back our marathon

They came, they ran, they conquered. And they cheered ... how they cheered!

This year’s Boston Marathon proved to be a fresh reminder of spring’s awakening, as well as a punctuation mark on a year of recovery following last year’s terrorist bombing attack at the end of the 26.2-mile course.

The message was clear for all: You — whoever you are — can’t stop us.

A field of more than 36,000, one of the largest in Boston Marathon history, delivered that message from the elite runners to those in wheelchairs or using hand cycles to the amateur enthusiasts to the weekend runners to the once-in-a-lifetimers.

Racers included many who had been there the year before: Some who had passed the finish line ahead of the explosions, some who had lost limbs or were injured by the homemade bombs and many who were stopped short of the finish line and the death and destruction that took place there. Joining them were first-time entrants, whose reaction to the terrorist attack was to vow to be part of this year’s field.

“Boston strong. America strong!” repeated this year’s winner, Meb Keflezighi, the first American to do so since 1983 and, at 38 years old, the oldest to come in first in 83 years. Keflezighi, with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds, was followed by thousands more over the course, including Rita Jeptoo, who repeated as winner of the woman’s field.

And all along the way, from the start in Hopkinton to the blue ribbon on Boylston Street in Boston, there were thousands and thousands of spectators showering the participants with love, with support, waving flags and signs and urging them on. As Ben Whitbeck of Greenfield, who was the top local finisher, said, “It was crazy how many people were out there cheering the runners on. It was great. It really helps pull you along.”

This was the 118th running of the Boston Marathon and Monday’s race demonstrated all of its strengths and more.

“We’re taking back our race today. We’re taking back the finish line,” said race director Dave McGillivray before the start.

And we did just that.

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