MARATHON WATCH: Silence, then exultation in Boston

Tuesday - 4/22/2014, 8:46am EDT

The Associated Press

A look at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon. For further updates, visit http://bigstory.ap.org.

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SILENCE TO NOISE: At 2:49 p.m. -- the time the bombs exploded last year -- a moment of remembrance was held on the course.

Near the site of the explosions, the silence was followed by the longest and most sustained cheer of the day. People screamed, whooped, whistled, clapped and rang cowbells.

-- Michelle R. Smith -- https://twitter.com/MRSmithAP

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LIVE FROM THE COURSE: Bill Kole, AP's New England bureau chief, ran the marathon, tweeting from every mile. At Mile 25, he reported: "This is where police stopped the race last year. Nothing but a jubilant stream of humanity today."

Kole finished in 4 hours, 33 minutes, 37 seconds. His last tweet: "Everyone's screaming on Boylston Street. For all the right reasons. 36,000 sweaty, tearful, exuberant reasons."

-- Bill Kole -- https://twitter.com/billkole

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MEB STRONG: Men's champion Meb Keflezighi said he kept thinking "Boston Strong, Boston Strong" as his lead dwindled over the final miles.

The American went out early and built a big lead. But he was looking over his shoulder several times as Wilson Chebet closed the gap.

Keflezighi completed the 26.2 miles in a personal-best 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds. Chebet finished 11 seconds behind.

"I'm blessed to be an American and God bless America and God bless Boston for this special day," Keflezighi said.

He sobbed as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played over Boylston Street.

-- Pat Eaton-Robb -- https://twitter.com/peatonrobb

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HERE TO HELP: The Boston Public Health Commission has a drop-in counseling center available near Copley Square until 8 p.m. for anyone having trouble coping. There's also a phone hotline people can call. Boston-area hospitals have been offering free mental health services ever since the bombings.

Jennifer Lawrence, a social worker at Boston Medical Center, said that in the aftermath of the bombings, more than 600 people used mental health services there. And while most needed no help after the first few months, she saw an increase in demand as the anniversary approached.

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HONORING THE FALLEN: As they make their final turn onto Boylston Street, runners are passing near Ladder 15, Engine 33 -- the Boston Fire Department station that lost two firefighters in a recent deadly Back Bay fire on Beacon Street. The station has extended a ladder pointed up toward the finish line.

-- Steve LeBlanc

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STEP BY STEP: Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block ran the race last year to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association. McIntyre finished in under four hours -- about five minutes before the bombs went off. He wasn't hurt.

The Boston native is raising money for Alzheimer's research again this year but also asked people to donate to the OneFund set up to help bombing victims.

McIntyre wrote on his blog: "We cannot and will not forget those who are still battling the challenges that were thrown upon them. And for me, I want to show up this year and honor them by continuing to run, continuing to live and strive."

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FINISHING TOGETHER: Newlyweds who each lost a leg in last year's bombing completed the marathon together this year, riding handcycles for the 26.2-mile course.

Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky were newly married last year when they went to the marathon finish line to watch the runners cross. They suffered severe injuries; each lost a left leg.

On Monday, they rode side by side in the handcycle race, completing the course from Hopkinton to Boston in about 2 hours and 14 minutes. Both smiled as they rolled across the finish line, holding hands.

A spokesman for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital said the couple wanted to make sure they completed the race together.

-- Denise Lavoie -- https://twitter.com/deniselavoie_ap

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PRESIDENTIAL CONGRATS: President Barack Obama took to Twitter to congratulate Meb Keflezighi on his victory, as well as Shalane Flanagan, the top American woman, on her finish.

"Congrats to RunMeb and ShalaneFlanagan for making America proud! All of today's runners showed the world the meaning of BostonStrong," Obama wrote.

The tweet, which was sent from the official White House Twitter account, was signed "-bo." That's how the White House identifies tweets the president sends himself.

White House spokesman Jay Carney also opened his daily briefing by congratulating Keflezighi on becoming the first American man to win the marathon in 31 years. Carney said it was "quite an accomplishment and a great year to do it."

-- Julie Pace -- https://twitter.com/jpaceDC