Heightened emotion (and security) at today’s marathons in London, Belgrade, and Bethlehem

The legend of the marathon is one of triumph, commemorating the messenger who, in 490 BC, is said to have run without stopping from Marathon, where an overmatched Greek army had just defeated the Persians, to announce the victory in Athens, bursting into a meeting of the assembly to proclaim, “We won!” before collapsing to his death.

These days, at certain times of the year, people can be found all over the world putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers). Marathons are spectacles, feats of endurance, a truly global sport—and, this weekend, the races took on even more significance in the wake of the bombings that killed 3 people and injured 183 in Boston last week. There were marathons today in London, Belgrade, and—for the first time ever—Bethlehem.

Start of the Belgrade Marathon
<strong>BELGRADE:</strong> One of Serbia’s largest sporting events, the Belgrade Marathon has been run every year since 1988. (AP Photo / Darko Vojinovic)
Runner in Bethlehem Marathon runs past the barrier separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
<strong>BETHLEHEM:</strong> The first-ever marathon within the Israeli-occupied West Bank ran along parts of the barrier separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem. (EPA Photo / Jim Hollander)
Volunteers before the start of the London Marathon.
<strong>LONDON:</strong> The race was held under heightened security, and there was a moment of silence for those killed Boston, but the mood was generally defiant. (AP Photo / Alastair Grant)
Serbian observation zeppelin hovering over the Belgrade Marathon.
<strong>BELGRADE:</strong> A Serbian security zeppelin hovered over the race. (AP Photo / Darko Vojinovic)
Palestinian police officer's gun at the Bethlehem Marathon.
<strong>BETHLEHEM:</strong> Tight security—in this case, provided by a Palestinian police officer—was per usual. The theme of the event was “Right to Movement.” Some runners from Gaza weren’t allowed by Israel to travel to Bethlehem for the race. (EPA Photo / Jim Hollander)
Tsegaye Kebede crossing the London Marathon finish line.
<strong>LONDON:</strong> Tsegaye Kebede of Kenya won the men’s race in 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 3 seconds. Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya won the women’s race. Many runners wore a black ribbon in commemoration the Boston victims. (AP Photo / Alastair Grant)
Olivera Jevtic crosses the finish line of the Belgrade Marathon.
<strong>BELGRADE:</strong> Olivera Jevtic of Serbia won the women’s race in 2 hours, 36 minutes and 12 seconds. Edwin Kitum of Kenya won the men’s race. (AP Photo / Darko Vojinovic)
Abdel Nasser Awajme celebrating his win at the Bethlehem Marathon.
<strong>BETHLEHEM:</strong> Abdel Nasser Awajme, a Palestinian from Jericho, won the men’s race. His time wasn’t officially announced. (EPA Photo / Abed Al Hashlamoun)
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