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Thousands of runners launch Marathon weekend with a 5K race

About 10,000 runners got Marathon weekend started with a short race.

Wendy Maeda/Globe staff

About 10,000 runners got Marathon weekend started with a short race.

On a clear, cool morning, 10,000 runners stepped off from Boston Common for the BAA 5K, the first of three BAA marathon events scheduled for today in Boston.

With the temperature at 41 degrees, the American flag and blue-and-yellow marathon banners fluttered in the stiff breeze.

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The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, dressed in Colonial uniforms with red coats and three-cornered hats, led the national anthem, evoking the spirit of Patriots Day.

Many runners were clad in tights, black lycra, and neon green. They proudly sported bibs with official numbers and the jerseys of their local running clubs.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, presiding over his first marathon weekend, welcomed runners and visitors to the city.

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“You ready?” Walsh said, playing the part of chief cheerleader.

The crowd responded in cheers: “Yes!”

Echoing the words of vice president Joe Biden who spoke at Tuesday’s commemoration of the finish line bombings, he bellowed, “Let’s take back the finish line.”

BAA President Joann E. Flaminio saluted the jubiliant crowd. “It’s a great day today in the city of Boston,” she said.

Walsh then blew the horn for the 8 a.m. official start.

Three people in wheelchairs and a hand cyclist were the first off the blocks, followed by throngs of runners who headed up Charles Street. The field included a mix of elite athletes and first-time runners.

The men’s champion Dejen Gebremeskel, 24, of Ethiopia, set a course record of 13:26. Ben True, 28, of Hanover, N.H., crossed the finish line at the same time.

Women’s winner, Molly Huddle, 29, of Providence, R.I crossed the line at 15:12. She tied a course record set in 2012 by Werknesh Kidane.

Runners said they were happy to be on the course.

“The crowd cheering along the way really helped,” said Crystal Tolman, 28, a scientist from Oxbridge, who said she did not know her finish time. She had hoped to be in Monday’s marathon, but not this year.

“I missed qualifying by 87 seconds,” she said.

Participants came from near and far.

Barry and Stacey Miller, travelled from Mission Viejo, Calif. On Monday, Barry will run his second Boston Marathon, having finished last year in 3 hours, 44 minutes.

“I’m so excited to be back,” said Barry, 48, a police officer. “After all that happened last year, it’s great to see everyone here.”

His wife, Stacey, 51, ran the 5K.

“I wanted to add some good memories after what happened last year,” she said of the bombings.

Moved by the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard, Christa McGrath, 43, of Lowell, took up running the day after last year’s marathon.

“I teach preschool,” McGrath said, wearing a bright yellow BAA race shirt. “That little boy passing away – that just got to me.”

On her first day of training McGrath said she, “ran a whole minute.”

“That’s all I could do,” she said laughing. But she trained the whole year and today she said she was excited about racing this weekend.

The cheering crowd lined the route, which went began and ended at the common, at one point crossing the Marathon finish line. Kimberley Wong, 29, of Vancouver, Canada, rooted for her mother, father, and a childhood friend.

“Somebody needs to stand here and hold the bags,” she said, smiling. Her mother, Ellen, 62, will run on Monday, having been stopped .8 of a mile before finishing.

Kimberley said she was happy to be in Boston this weekend.

“It’s great to see everybody show up. This is Boston Strong, right?”

Kathy McCabe can be reached at katherine.mccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.
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