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MARATHON WATCH: ‘We’re taking back our race’

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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)

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)

Father and son Boston Marathon race team Dick Hoyt, right, and his son Rick Hoyt walk across the start line as they warm up before they run the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Mobility-impaired runners gather at the start line for a moment of silence before the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

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

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 been more diverse. Since 1991, 10 Kenyan runners have captured the title, followed by Ethiopia with five and Russia with four.

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

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FATHER-SON FINALE: Dick and Rick Hoyt are among the most recognizable faces at the Boston Marathon. Rick has cerebral palsy and his father, Dick, pushes him along the course in a wheelchair every year. They’ve completed Boston 30 times.

They’re so beloved that there’s a statue in their honor in Hopkinton, where the race starts. They didn’t get to finish last year because of the bombing. This will be their last time doing the marathon together — Dick is 74 — though Rick plans to continue with someone else pushing him.

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SAFE RETURNS: John Stuart, 57, has run Boston 19 times and lives about three blocks from the finish line. He had a 16-race streak going and planned to run this year until he got a bug and was told not to by his doctor Friday.

Instead, he’s scratching something off his bucket list, watching the elite runners cross the finish line for the first time and cheering on friends.

Stuart was running the race last year for the BAA team and finished about half an hour before the explosions. His wife, daughter and son were still in the finish line area when the bombs went off. His wife, Kathy, was knocked down. But none were seriously hurt.

They’re sitting just a few feet away from the place where they watched last year. Kathy says she figures they were lucky in that spot last year, so why not come back?

A bomb-sniffing police dog earlier checked his family’s chairs and the bags of people sitting nearby.

“It’s sad that it’s come to this,” Kathy said. “You can’t just walk and go to a race. It costs the city a whole lot of money. I’d rather have it be this way: safe.”

— Michelle R. Smith — www.twitter.com/MRSmithAP

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ALL THE WAY BACK: Among the returning runners is 58-year-old Carol Downing, of Monkton, Md. Daughters Erika Brannock and Nicole Gross were badly hurt last year as they waited for her to finish. Downing was stopped about a half-mile from the end of the race.

Both daughters will be in Boston this year to see their mom run, but they’re still debating whether they will return to the finish line.

“I’m trying not to think about last year and just looking forward to getting to the finish line and seeing my family,” Downing said. “This time having a better ending.”

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

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AND WE’RE OFF: The 118th Boston Marathon has begun. Massachusetts Gov. Deval

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