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Shalane Flanagan to run Boston Marathon in ’14

Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan

FILE/ROBERT F. BUKATY/AP

Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan said, “Runners know all about overcoming obstacles. We come back strong.”

As the president’s words echoed from Boston across America — “We carry on. We race. We strive’’ — a 31-year-old woman in Portland, Ore., Thursday began training for the first Boston Marathon after a terrorist attack forever changed competitive distance running.

“If anything, the bombings make me want to run Boston next year that much more,’’ said Shalane Flanagan, the first American woman — fourth overall — to cross the finish line Monday before the explosions on Boylston Street. “I think we all feel the same way. It was a scary event, but I don’t think any of us are afraid to show our resiliency.’’

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Flanagan, a Marblehead native who trains with many top runners in Oregon, said much of the world’s elite running community is enraged by the terrorism that rocked the 117-year-old Boston Marathon, a jewel of international distance running.

“Honestly, a lot of us are completely devastated and saddened by the tragedy,’’ she said. “But we’re also [ticked] off. I feel like whoever did this messed with the wrong bunch of people. Runners know all about overcoming obstacles. That’s who we are. We come back strong.’’

Even so, many elite marathoners expect race managers around the globe to tighten security after the bombings in Boston, Flanagan said. The top finishers in Monday’s marathon were rushed into quarantine for their safety at the Fairmont Copley Plaza immediately after the bombings.

Many of them watched the horror unfold on television. Others privately reflected on the future of their sport, which is no longer immune from terrorism.

“I think you will see us provide a lot of good feedback in terms of safety and security and what needs to be done,’’ Flanagan said. “I know we expect a lot of elevated security in terms of the management of these marathons.’’

No one has criticized the safety plan for Monday’s race, which balanced the need for strict security near the VIP viewing area and finish line with the ancient tradition of granting the public curbside views of the marathon.

But many runners expect greater vigilance when, as President Obama predicted during an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, “the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon.’’

The worshippers included Colin Peddie, a former elite distance runner who owns Marathon Sports. The first bomb exploded in front of Peddie’s Boylston Street store, blowing out the windows and sending his employees scrambling to aid the victims.

Peddie is considering expanding his network of surveillance cameras to monitor the exterior of his store, which remains a restricted crime scene.

“I think everyone is going to have a heightened sense of awareness,’’ he said. “It might be a little overzealous at first, but it needs to be a diligent, consistent look at what is going on around us.’’

The push for tighter security held less appeal for some other top marathoners.

“I don’t think the bombings should be attributed to a lapse in security or considered a call for enhanced security,’’ said Tim Ritchie, an assistant coach of the Boston College men’s track and field team, who finished 25th overall Monday in 2:21.31. “I think the city of Boston did the best it absolutely could to make the race as safe as it could be.’’

Ritchie was standing near Copley Square when the bombs detonated. He scurried to make sure family and friends were safe before heeding police orders to clear the area.

During Obama’s speech, Ritchie was in North Carolina, preparing to coach the BC team in the Atlantic Coast Conference championships this weekend. But he shared the president’s vision of the community rallying after the tragedy.

“The marathon is about the human spirit overcoming impossible tasks to reach the finish line,’’ Ritchie said. “It’s also about community and people helping each other. In fact, the bombings, more than anything, demonstrated the true power of the marathon. Instead of us helping each other cross the finish line, we helped each other find safety and comfort.’’

That spirit is expected to bring them together again next April.

“I can’t wait to get back next year,’’ Ritchie said. “I think we will be joined by a record number of people. Runners have a special bond, and something like this is only going to make it stronger.’’

BC’s track and field athletes plan to wear the official Boston Marathon colors — blue and yellow — on their ribbons and shoelaces during the ACC championships in solidarity with Boston and the bombing victims.

Like Ritchie and Flanagan, Peddie has spoken to many marathoners in recent days who have expressed a determination to honor the terrorism victims and defy the attackers by running next year.

“We’ve been knocked down as a city and a running community,’’ Peddie said. “We’re going to stand up first, walk second, and then we’re going to start running. And then we’re going to run all the way to the finish line.’’

He has spoken to Boston City Councilor Michael Ross about erecting a permanent memorial to the victims near the bombing sites. He also is considering ways to honor those affected by the terrorist attacks when he reopens his Boylston Street store.

For her part, Flanagan made it home to Marblehead for a night before she flew back to Portland Wednesday. She said she returned with special pride for Boston, particularly the first responders and crime investigators.

“I know some people are eager to hear positive news about the capture’’ of suspects, she said, “but I’m so proud of the methodical way the community of Boston is handling things. They are not messing around. They are getting a lot done.’’

Flanagan, too, needed to get some things done. With her quadriceps no longer aching so badly that she struggled to descend stairs, she planned to begin running again after she completed her phone interview with the Globe.

Her first stride would mark the start of a year of training for a racing schedule that will culminate with the next Boston Marathon.

“I’m going to go out and run on some soft grass, do some healing running,’’ she said. “And while I’m running, I’ll be thinking of the people of Boston.’’

Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.
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