An extra 9,000 runners may crowd the streets from Hopkinton to Boston for the 2014 Boston Marathon, which could make it the second-largest field ever following the 2013 bombings that left over 5,000 stranded shy of the finish line.
Most of the stranded runners are returning in 2014 (more than 4,500 are already registered), and many more are hoping to pay tribute to the 2013 victims by running next April's race.
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"We understand many marathoners and qualifiers want to run Boston in 2014, and we appreciate the support and patience that the running community has demonstrated because of the bombings that occurred this past spring," executive director Tom Grilk said in a statement Thursday.
The registration period for the 2013 runners ends today; others can register starting Sept. 9 - assuming they have met the qualifying time in another marathon. Qualifications standards remained the same as the 2013 requirements (three hours, 40 minutes for a 35-39-year-old woman, for example). The fastest runners in each age category get to sign up first.
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In 1996, 38,708 runners registered for the marathon's 100th anniversary; 35,868 finished. This year's pool is open to 36,000, a number arrived at by consulting with state and municipal agencies and public safety officials, the Boston Athletic Association said.
"Interested runners have been remarkably respectful and cooperative as we worked towards what will be an important day in the history of the race, the sport and the City of Boston," Grilk said.