LONDON — At the London Marathon expo entrance, a large display board greeted runners. It featured photographs and logos from the six races that constitute the World Marathon Majors — Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York City, Tokyo. Runners stood in front of the various backdrops and snapped cell phone pictures. Even if they had never run the Boston Marathon, they wanted a picture with the unicorn logo. London Marathon entrants wanted to show their support for Boston in any way they could. The display board was the first of many opportunities in London.
“I posed for a picture just becaused we’re thinking of Boston,” said Tracy Cashman of Stirling, Scotland. “I think running will be quite emotional. As a runner, all of us were a bit shocked when thinking of it. Why would anyone target runners and their families? I don’t understand it at all. I’ll be wearing a black ribbon during the race. And if I’m not too knackered at the end, I’ll put my hand on my heart.”
The black ribbon and hand-over-heart gestures are part of two initiatives to recognize Boston. The London Marathon has encouraged runners to wear black ribbons in remembrance of what happened in Boston, while an organization that helps homeless people suggested participants put their hands over their hearts upon crossing the finish line.
The marathon will also observe 30 seconds of silence for the bombing victims before the men’s elite race and mass start, and donate $3 for every finisher to the One Fund Boston. Race organizers expect to raise more than $100,000 for the One Fund, which will help victims of the explosion.
At the expo, runners found smaller, more personal ways to keep Boston in their thoughts. In the adidas exhibit area, there was a large white wall on which runners could write good luck wishes in permanent marker. Sprinkled throughout the super-sized message board, there were plenty of Boston mentions. “RESPECT TO BOSTON,” read one. “Marathon runners will NOT be beaten by terror,” read another. And it kept going. “We run for Boston. Runners solidarity. Love Peace!” “I’ll run for Boston with my head high and my heart proud. They will not win.” “This is for Boston.”
There was also an adidas T-shirt that read “Boston stands as one” that was selling fast.
“They’ve been flying off the rails,” said Michael Kenyon of Liverpool, England, who was working in the sales area. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a lot of people wearing these T-shirts [on Sunday], both the spectators and runners.”
Several runners who previously competed in Boston made a point to wear Boston Marathon gear to the expo, drawing other runners into conversations about the city and the race. Andy Bass of London was one of those runners. He ran 3:18:45 in Boston on Monday and entered the expo wearing his blue-and-yellow 2013 Boston Marathon jacket. He hoped to run under three hours in London, but his mind was still back in Boston.
“For me, the biggest thing was the guy who lost his son,” said Bass. “I’m a father. There have been so many races when my family was waiting at the end. I put myself in that father’s position. For me, that really brought it home. I’m going to think of him when I cross the line here. And I’ll be in Boston next year. I’ve already qualified.”
And that was an overwhelming sentiment. Runners who never previously considered running Boston wanted to be there next year. They were thinking about a qualifying attempt at London or a charity entry. Katie Thompson of Eden Prairie, Minn., ran the 2009 Boston Marathon and was wearing a sweatshirt from that race at a pre-race reception.
“I’ve got the qualifying time and I’m seriously thinking about it,” said Thompson. “I want to come back and make Boston stronger than it’s ever been.”Shira Springer can be reached at email@example.com.