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Tribute run unites Marathon survivors and responders

The Tribute Run got underway on Boylston Street.

Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

The Tribute Run got underway on Boylston Street.

Many of those directly affected by the bombings gathered this morning on Boylston Street for a 1-mile tribute run, including the parents of Martin Richard, who was killed last year in the bombings, and his older brother Henry, who led the pack off the line and finished fourth.

The run brought together survivors, police, EMS, and many of those who witnessed the horror on Boylston last April.

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Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Governor Deval Patrick walked the route that started in Copley Square.

Thousands to a festive Boylston Street where daffodils planted in pots wrapped in blue foil stood in the windowsills of the Boston Public Library and in front of Marathon Sports and other businesses along the street. A giant banner, “We are Boston. We are strong,” hung from 530 Boylston St., a prominent office building.

“This city is buzzing,” Walsh welcomed the crowd just before the start of the 10:30 walk.

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About a block away, Joe Hill, a street artist from London, drew a mural of a marathon runner with the city skyline in the background.

“This represents the strength of the people and the marathon,” Hill said, as visitors stood watching him.

Peggy Szeto, 42, a social worker at Tufts Medical Center, was invited to walk with a team for survivor Patrick Downes, who lost a leg in the bombing and who spoke at last Tuesday’s memorial ceremony at the Hynes Convention Center.

“To see him up there the other day, to see him on the stage, after just a year, it was incredible,” Szeto said before starting the walk.

In brief remarks, Walsh saluted survivors and the crowd, which included actor Kevin Spacey. The mayor thanked Spacey “for loving this city.”

“As I look out to this crowd, there is a lot of inspiration,” Walsh said. “I want to thank you for your courage and your resilience. Thank you for making this city so strong. We love you, we love you, we love you.”

After starting in Copley Square, the invitational mile proceeded down Clarendon, Newbury, and Boylston streets.

Steady applause and whoops and cheers greeted runners and walkers as they crossed the marathon finish line.

“Amazing, Just amazing,” said Lisa Luz, 43, of Derry, N.H., who stood waiting for survivors Kevin White and his father, Bill, who lost his leg and walks with a prosthesis.

Luz, a nurse who took up running after last year’s marathon, will run Monday on a team to support the Whites.

At Old South Church, right at the finish line, volunteers gave marathon runners blue and yellow scarves knitted by volunteers across the country.

“I feel like somebody put a lot of emotion into this,” said Vita Sistani, 46, a native of Iran who now lives in San Francisco.

Sistani ran in last year’s marathon, but only got as far a mile 24 when the race stopped. She remembers the confusion and fear on runners’ faces.

“It’s good to see people in Boston so happy again,” she said.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe. Billy Baker can be reached at ollow him on Twitter @billy_baker.
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