Japanese marathoners join hands in Boston

Kyodo

Many Japanese were among the thousands of runners who crossed the 118th Boston Marathon finish line amid tightened security Monday, a year after the bombings that killed three and left more than 260 injured.

“Since last year, the whole city has grown stronger, determined not to be knocked down by terrorism,” said 45-year-old Masayoshi Ichihara, who currently lives in Mexico. “I am from Hiroshima, where survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings managed to grow up stronger, so I feel the experiences are similar.”

Meanwhile, Yoshitaka Naruse, a friend of Ichihara’s who is originally from Nagoya, said Bostonians showed they have the inner strength to “come back stronger, whatever happens.” Naruse, 50, came from Michigan, where he lives now, to participate in the world’s oldest marathon.

Another runner from Japan, 43-year-old Tokyoite Yoshinori Fukuchi, also expressed his joy at “participating in such an exceptional competition,” pumping his fist.

“This time there were much more fans lining the course to cheer the runners,” he said, adding the scene made him realize the kindness and compassion of local residents.

Among the runners who crossed the finish line Monday were a mother and daughter, Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, who were severely wounded by the bomb blasts last year.

Celeste, who was at the finish line to watch her sister complete the race when the bombs exploded, lost both legs below the knee, while her daughter, Sydney, now 18, also suffered severe injuries.

Using prosthetic legs, Celeste Corcoran crossed the line holding hands with other members of her family.

“Terrorists never, ever win,” she told local media. “Hate doesn’t win; it’s love that wins.”

Security for this year’s competition was enhanced, with stricter regulations for participants, such as the number of belongings they could bring in.

Special fences, erected for the first time in the marathon’s history, separated the runners and spectators. At points along the course fans held signs that read: “Boston is strong” — a phrase that has helped Bostonians overcome last year’s tragedy.