Stew Milne, AP
Runners start the 117th running of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., on April 15, 2013.
Runners who didn’t finish the Boston Marathon last year, when it was disrupted by a terrorist attack, scooped up more than half of an extra 9,000 entry spots set aside to accommodate them, race organizers said Sunday.
The Boston Athletic Association estimated that 5,624 runners were between the halfway point and the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon when two bombs exploded, killing three people and bringing the race to an abrupt halt.
The organization emailed each of those runners to inform them that they were eligible for an early August registration period for the 118th running of the race, and about 4,500 spots were filled, spokesman Marc Davis said Sunday.
That leaves another 4,500 extra starting spots available when regular registration opens on Monday, and the association expects to reach the maximum of 36,000 runners due to heightened interest in the race.
“The B.A.A. is aware of the significantly increased interest in registering for the 2014 Boston Marathon,” said Executive Director Tom Grilk. “Many people seem very excited to continue supporting the community we have here in Boston.”
Alicia Wimberly, 34, has never run the Boston Marathon before, but she said the harrowing events of last year’s race “did inspire me even more to want to qualify and run the Boston Marathon.”
On Sunday, she ran the Sioux Falls Marathon in three hours and 27 minutes, 13 minutes less than the time she needed to qualify based on her age and gender.
“It will be an emotional run in memory of the victims and also to show people that runners are strong,” Wimberly said of her decision to enter the Boston race this week.
Wimberly has previously been drawn to compete by tragedy, having run in the New York City Marathon in 2001, less than two months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. “That was crazy, I imagine this will be similar with similar feelings,” she said.
When Wimberly ran in New York 12 years ago, the Missouri woman said she was “extremely nervous” about safety, “but NYC did a great job with preparing everyone and with the security. I am confident that Boston will do the same.”
The Boston Athletic Association announced that spectators and runners this year will most likely be asked to cooperate with extra safety precautions “related to transportation, baggage and other logistics.” Grilk thanked “the town, city and state officials for the cooperation and allowances needed to conduct a special race of this size and scope.”
The 2014 Boston Marathon will take place on April 21. Boylston Street will again mark the finish line.