BOSTON (CBS) – Thousands upon thousands of runners took to the streets in Boston and beyond on Saturday, a precursor to the 118th Boston Marathon.
In a slight change of tradition, runners hit the pavement from Boston Common instead of Copley Square for the 7th annual Boston Athletic Association 5K race.
Just down the street at Copley Square, the B.A.A. hosted a special Tribute Run to thank survivors of last year’s bombings, along with friends and first responders, for the strength and resiliency displayed this year. Actor Kevin Spacey was among those who welcomed about 2,000 people to the Copley Square start line.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports
Participants could run or walk for the one mile tribute that ended on the marathon finish line. The time clock remained at zero to show this event wasn’t a competition, but a chance to greet old friends and enjoy the day.
A year ago survivor John Odom couldn’t stand up. Saturday he was at the finish line to turn a page.
“Even though I’m going forward and I’m looking forward, I still felt I needed to get here for that closure and I wanted to be here with all my friends,” he said.
Marine veteran Gabe Martinez of Colorado wanted his walk to be about encouraging others.
“We knew how it was to be in the hospital and we kind of knew how good it was for another amputee to tell us we’ll be independent and we’ll be OK,” Martinez said.
Caregivers from Spaulding Rehab Hospital handed out medals at the finish line.
A younger group of runners also had their turn on Boylston Street where hundreds of kids competed in the BAA Relay Challenge.
Among the runners was Henry Richard of Dorchester, the olderbrother of 8-year-old Martin Richard who was killed in last year’s finish line bombings.
Henry ran the anchor leg for his relay team and finished with Mayor Marty Walsh holding the tape while his father Bill smiled proudly.
A few miles away in Watertown, on the one-year anniversary of the shootout and manhunt there involving the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman and Gov. Deval Patrick helped kick off the Watertown Police Finish Strong 5K.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports from Watertown
“The importance of being here really belongs to the members of this community,” the governor told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope. “It’s important that they’re here and demonstrating that this community has come back strong. You know, we’re together. We’re moving forward, looking ahead.”
In addition to first responders, organizers recognized Watertown resident Dave Hennebury, who found bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding inside his boat in his back yard.
In Concord, hundreds of military personnel participated in a pre-dawn Patriots’ Day ceremony before marching 26.2 miles wearing full ruck sack gear and carrying a banner containing the name of a fallen comrade.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports on the march
The march was led by Gold Star father and post-Boston Marathon bombing hero Carlos Arredondo.
“Myself and my family are very proud to participate with these amazing people,” Arredondo said of the event.
And while much of the attention was fixed on Boston this weekend, a half world away, more than 500 troops were taking part in the Boston Marathon “Shadow Run” at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, which is the only sanctioned Boston Marathon overseas.