MARATHON WATCH: Fans keep festive spirit on course

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Race fans line the course near the start line of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Race fans line the course near the start line of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Runners in the first wave of 9,000 cross the start line of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Race fans from left, Andrew Lembecke, of Chicago, Brandon Petrich of Fargo, N.D, Marlene Youngblood of Louisville, Ky, and Bill Januszewski cheer near the finish line at the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Boston. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Elite women runners leave the start line of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Mobility-impared runners David Abel, left, Juli Windsor, and Scott Rigsby compete in the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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A look at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

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PARTY ON: Once out of the starting town of Hopkinton, security appeared no stiffer than in past years. The traditional party atmosphere was in full force.

Loud music blared from a pair of tree-mounted speakers. Up the road, a string band played. Fans hauled coolers, beach chairs, strollers, even grills to the yards and driveways along the course.

The wall of sound that is Wellesley College was in full throat, with hundreds of students screaming loudly enough to be heard a quarter of a mile away.

— Rik Stevens — https://twitter.com/RikStevensAP

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FIRST CHAMP: Ernst van Dyk of South Africa won the men’s wheelchair division for a record 10th time. The 41-year-old crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 36 seconds.

Van Dyk holds the record for most all-categories Boston Marathon wins. This was his first win at this race since 2010.

— Pat Eaton-Robb — https://twitter.com/peatonrobb

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SIGNS OF TIMES: Fans in Ashland, 2 miles into the race, were showing their spirit with bright red T-shirts that read “Wicked Strong.”

A woman wearing “survivor” on her bib and “4.15” — the date of the bombing last year — broke from a walk into a jog as she approached a crowd in Ashland, eliciting a cheer from the spectators.

More than one sign of support along the route read “Collier Strong,” a tribute to the MIT police officer killed during the hunt for the Tsarnaev brothers after the bombings.

— Rik Stevens — https://twitter.com/RikStevensAP

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INSPIRATION: On Marathon Monday in 2013, Sabrina Dello Russo and four of her friends watched the Red Sox game, then walked over to the finish line as she did every year. Dello Russo and Roseann Sdoia talked about running the race the next time around.

Dello Russo is now following through by taking on her first marathon, and she’s doing it for Sdoia, who lost her right leg in the bombing.

“She is my inspiration from Day 1 last year when I saw her in the ICU,” said Dello Russo, 38, from South Boston. “Every run I do, she is in the back of my head, and she will be keeping me going today.”

— Paige Sutherland — https://twitter.com/psutherland458

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GAME DAY FOR EMTS: The paramedics, EMTs and doctors responsible for the marathon’s final 2 miles gathered for final instructions near the finish line in Copley Square shortly after 9:30 a.m.

There are roughly 140 emergency medical personnel assigned to the last 2 miles, a jump from around 110 last year, according to Boston EMS chief James Hooley.

He told the group to “concentrate on today.”

“We almost don’t have the luxury to think about the past,” Hooley said. “This is game day.”

In an average year, he said, 3 or 4 percent of the runners need medical treatment of some kind.

“We’ve got a good, long day ahead of us,” Hooley said.

— Steve Peoples — https://twitter.com/sppeoples

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TAKING BACK RACE: The elite men and first wave of amateur runners have started.

Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray told them: “We’re taking back our race. We’re taking back the finish line.”

The race’s field is the second largest in its history. There are 35,755 confirmed entrants — 19,648 men and 16,107 women — far more than the typical 27,000. Organizers invited back more than 5,000 entrants who were still on the course last year when the bombs went off and made room for runners who submitted essays.

To accommodate everyone, the field is starting in four waves of about 9,000 people each. The biggest Boston Marathon was the 100th edition, in 1996, when there were 38,708 entrants. At the time it was the biggest marathon in history.

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KEEPING WATCH: More than 250 personnel from law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, state and federal agencies and the National Guard were monitoring the race from a coordination center set up at the Framingham headquarters of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Radios crackled throughout the sprawling underground facility as officials watched feeds from security cameras, television coverage and helicopters. A list of “significant events”— including start times, street shutdowns and reports of unauthorized vehicles — scrolled across large monitors.

— Amy Crawford — https://twitter.com/amymcrawf

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NOT NORMAL: As the crowd in Hopkinton waited for the elite men to start, the race announcer thanked the crowd for obeying the no-backpack policy: “Maybe some time in the future some normalcy will return.”

After the national anthem was played, there was a flyover by Air National Guard helicopters.

— Bob Salsberg

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AMERICAN DROUGHT: A huge cheer went up when Shalane Flanagan, of Marblehead, Mass., was introduced before the elite women started their race.

It’s been nearly 30 years since an American woman won. That came in 1985 when Michigan’s Lisa Larsen Weidenbach ran uncontested to capture the title in 2:34:06.

For the men, it’s been a longer drought: Massachusetts’ own Greg Meyer broke the tape in 1983 in a time of 2:09.

Since 1991, a runner from Kenya has won the men’s race 19 times. The women’s side has

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