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BAA: Support after attacks at race overwhelming

Friday - 5/3/2013, 7:17pm  ET

In this Monday, April 29, 2013, photo, Will Belezos measures the placement of the Boston Marathon logo while repainting the finish line two weeks after the race that was disrupted by two tragic explosions in Boston. Maintenance on the finish line, which typically involves the race-day sticker being pulled up after the event and the paint version touched up as the more permanent parker, was delayed until the crime scene was cleared. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- In the foyer of the Boston Athletic Association headquarters is the Champions' Trophy that documents the winners of the world's most prestigious marathon. It shines from its perch above display cabinets stuffed with shoes, bibs and other artifacts of the organization's 125-year history, the finial atop the silver cup slightly askew.

At some point in the commotion following the explosions at the race's finish line last month, the base of the trophy was bent. B.A.A. officials seem less interested in how it happened than in getting it ready for next year, when they fully intend to update it with the champions of the 118th Boston Marathon.

"We're going to do this again," race director Dave McGillivray said Wednesday, when B.A.A. officials sat down for their first interviews since bombs killed three people and wounded hundreds more at the marathon's finish line. "This is not just about Boston anymore."

In a conference room in their Back Bay offices, McGillivray and B.A.A. executive director Tom Grilk discussed the tragedy that interrupted the April 15 race and the response that allowed them to be hopeful for next year's.

They would not comment on security -- deferring to law enforcement and elected officials -- or potential plans to expand the 2014 race to accommodate the thousands who have said they want to run Boston to support the city and the event. But both men said they were heartened by the way the community -- runners and non-runners alike -- has rallied around the race.

"The outpouring of support is overwhelming, to the point where we're challenged now with how to handle all of it, how to respond to it, how to direct these people who are looking to help," McGillivray said. "The entire running industry feels victimized. They need to do something, too. They need to heal, and that's what we're seeing."

And it's not just runners.

Other Boston sports teams have been cheered by rival fans on the road and welcomed home with emotional ceremonies. Races around the United States and the world have included their own tributes to Boston. The One Fund, a charity established to help the bombing victims, has raised more than $25 million, and Grilk said the B.A.A. would donate $250,000.

"There is so much to be grateful for," he said, singling out the police and emergency-responders, the doctors and the race volunteers who tore through the barricades to get to the wounded.

"This was an attack on Boston, on all of us. The overwhelming reaction from everybody around Boston and beyond is that we will not give in to this sort of thing. We are strong, and we will come back. It is so sad that deaths occurred and horrible injuries occurred, but at least we saw some good come out of it."

At a time when the B.A.A. is usually winding down, it has, instead, just finished returning personal belongings to runners who were unable to retrieve them at the usual post-race pickup location. Those who gathered them up at the B.A.A. offices last week were given a chance to cross a replica of the painted finish line on Boylston Street, which is about a quarter-mile away.

Finisher's medals were still being mailed out to those who wanted them, no matter if or when they crossed the finish line. McGillivray said the organization hasn't had its usual post-race debriefing, when it discusses ways to tweak the next one.

"After all, we still put on a pretty good race -- up until a certain time. And then the focus shifted," he said. "We need to analyze that, because we're going to do this again. A lot of our focus has been and continues to be, our runners."

No B.A.A. workers were physically injured in the explosions, and the aftermath has kept them busy -- perhaps too busy to think about what has happened. The organization has encouraged its staff and volunteers to seek counseling; two group sessions have already taken place -- at the B.A.A. offices in the Back Bay and in Hopkinton.

Grilk declined to elaborate on the nature or mood of those sessions.

"We still struggle to understand how all of this could have happened," he said. "(There is) a sense of horror and tragedy. That it occurred adjacent to the marathon course makes it feel, in some ways, a little more personal to us just because so many of our people -- workers, runners, volunteers -- were close to it. But we weren't attacked any more than anyone else in the city of Boston."

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