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MARATHON WATCH: 'WE'RE TAKING BACK OUR RACE'

Monday, 21 April 2014 09:27 Published in National News

A look at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

TAKING BACK RACE: The elite men and first wave of amateur runners have started.

Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray told them: "We're taking back our race. We're taking back the finish line."

The race's field is the second largest in its history. There are 35,755 confirmed entrants — 19,648 men and 16,107 women — far more than the typical 27,000. Organizers invited back more than 5,000 entrants who were still on the course last year when the bombs went off and made room for runners who submitted essays.

To accommodate everyone, the field is starting in four waves of about 9,000 people each. The biggest Boston Marathon was the 100th edition, in 1996, when there were 38,708 entrants. At the time it was the biggest marathon in history.

___

KEEPING WATCH: More than 250 personnel from law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, state and federal agencies and the National Guard were monitoring the race from a coordination center set up at the Framingham headquarters of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Radios crackled throughout the sprawling underground facility as officials watched feeds from security cameras, television coverage and helicopters. A list of "significant events"— including start times, street shutdowns and reports of unauthorized vehicles — scrolled across large monitors.

— Amy Crawford — https://twitter.com/amymcrawf

___

NOT NORMAL: As the crowd in Hopkinton waited for the elite men to start, the race announcer thanked the crowd for obeying the no-backpack policy: "Maybe some time in the future some normalcy will return."

After the national anthem was played, there was a flyover by Air National Guard helicopters.

— Bob Salsberg

___

AMERICAN DROUGHT: A huge cheer went up when Shalane Flanagan, of Marblehead, Mass., was introduced before the elite women started their race.

It's been nearly 30 years since an American woman won. That came in 1985 when Michigan's Lisa Larsen Weidenbach ran uncontested to capture the title in 2:34:06.

For the men, it's been a longer drought: Massachusetts' own Greg Meyer broke the tape in 1983 in a time of 2:09.

Since 1991, a runner from Kenya has won the men's race 19 times. The women's side has been more diverse. Since 1991, 10 Kenyan runners have captured the title, followed by Ethiopia with five and Russia with four.

— Rik Stevens — https://twitter.com/RikStevensAP

___

FATHER-SON FINALE: Dick and Rick Hoyt are among the most recognizable faces at the Boston Marathon. Rick has cerebral palsy and his father, Dick, pushes him along the course in a wheelchair every year. They've completed Boston 30 times.

They're so beloved that there's a statue in their honor in Hopkinton, where the race starts. They didn't get to finish last year because of the bombing. This will be their last time doing the marathon together — Dick is 74 — though Rick plans to continue with someone else pushing him.

___

SAFE RETURNS: John Stuart, 57, has run Boston 19 times and lives about three blocks from the finish line. He had a 16-race streak going and planned to run this year until he got a bug and was told not to by his doctor Friday.

Instead, he's scratching something off his bucket list, watching the elite runners cross the finish line for the first time and cheering on friends.

Stuart was running the race last year for the BAA team and finished about half an hour before the explosions. His wife, daughter and son were still in the finish line area when the bombs went off. His wife, Kathy, was knocked down. But none were seriously hurt.

They're sitting just a few feet away from the place where they watched last year. Kathy says she figures they were lucky in that spot last year, so why not come back?

A bomb-sniffing police dog earlier checked his family's chairs and the bags of people sitting nearby.

"It's sad that it's come to this," Kathy said. "You can't just walk and go to a race. It costs the city a whole lot of money. I'd rather have it be this way: safe."

— Michelle R. Smith — www.twitter.com/MRSmithAP

___

ALL THE WAY BACK: Among the returning runners is 58-year-old Carol Downing, of Monkton, Md. Daughters Erika Brannock and Nicole Gross were badly hurt last year as they waited for her to finish. Downing was stopped about a half-mile from the end of the race.

Both daughters will be in Boston this year to see their mom run, but they're still debating whether they will return to the finish line.

"I'm trying not to think about last year and just looking forward to getting to the finish line and seeing my family," Downing said. "This time having a better ending."

— Paige Sutherland — https://twitter.com/psutherland458

___

AND WE'RE OFF: The 118th Boston Marathon has begun. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick set off the first entrants in the mobility impaired division, who crossed the starting line at 8:50 a.m.

Minutes earlier, Hopkinton fell silent as a moment of remembrance was held. The only sounds on the streets of Hopkinton were the soft drone of helicopters circling overhead.

The wheelchair division starts at 9:17. Then the handcycles begin at 9:22, and the elite women at 9:32.

The elite men and the first wave of amateur runners go at 10. There are four waves in total, the last starting at 11:25.

— Bob Salsberg

___

CHANNEL GUIDE: National television coverage of the Boston Marathon will have an expanded reach but still won't be available to many viewers.

The race is broadcast on the Universal Sports network outside New England. It is offering a free preview to all customers of cable and satellite services that offer the channel, which is generally carried only on sports tiers. But nearly half the country's homes with televisions won't be able to watch the marathon because Universal Sports doesn't have deals with big providers such as Comcast and Cablevision.

Dean Walker, the network's senior vice president for production, said this month that Universal Sports, as a sports channel, would focus its coverage on the competition but celebrate the resilience of the city.

"This race will go on forever, and we want to show the entire nation that, despite what anybody tried to do, it is now stronger and more determined," he said.

— Rachel Cohen — https://twitter.com/rachelcohenap

___

READY TO RUN: Thousands of runners are gathering at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, one year after a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

State and local police officers were everywhere Monday morning, even on the rooftops of some buildings. But rather than a tense situation, everyone appeared relaxed. Some runners even thanked the police officers for making them feel safe.

Near the finish line, spontaneous applause and whoops broke out in the crowd as a group of Boston police officers walked down the center of Boylston Street.

About 36,000 runners have registered for the race — the second-largest field in its history, many of them coming to show support for the event and the city that was shocked by the attack on its signature sporting event.

JINDO, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the captain and some crew members of the sunken ferry committed "unforgivable, murderous behavior," while criticism of her own government's handling of the disaster grew.

As divers continued to search the interior of the submerged vessel, the confirmed death toll rose to 86, according to information from the coast guard posted for the victims' families. About 220 people remain missing.

The captain initially told passengers to stay in their rooms and waited more than half an hour to issue an evacuation order as the ferry Sewol sank Wednesday. By then the ship had tilted so much it is believed that many passengers were trapped inside.

Park said at a Cabinet briefing, "What the captain and part of the crew did is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense. Unforgivable, murderous behavior." The comments were posted on the website of the presidential Blue House.

Park said instead of following a marine traffic controller's instructions to "make the passengers escape," the captain "told the passengers to stay put while they themselves became the first to escape."

"Legally and ethically," she said, "this is an unimaginable act."

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, and two crew members have been arrested on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need, and prosecutors said Monday that four other crew members have been detained. Senior prosecutor Ahn Sang-don said prosecutors would decide within 48 hours whether to seek arrest warrants for the four: two first mates, a second mate and a chief engineer.

Lee, 68, has said he waited to issue an evacuation order because the current was strong, the water was cold and passengers could have drifted away before help arrived. But maritime experts said he could have ordered passengers to the deck — where they would have had a greater chance of survival — without telling them to abandon ship.

Video showed that Lee was among the first people rescued. Some of his crew said he had been hurt, but a doctor who treated him said he had only light injuries.

Lee spoke of "pain in the left rib and in the back, but that was it," said Jang Ki-joon, director of the orthopedic department at Jindo Hankook University. Jang said he did not realize Lee was the captain until after he treated him.

Many relatives of the dead and missing also have been critical of the government, which drew more outrage Monday with the resignation of Song Young-chur, a high-ranking official in the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.

Song, chief of the Regional Development Policy Bureau, reportedly tried to take a commemorative photo Sunday evening of the situation room on Jindo, an island near the sunken ferry, where government officials brief relatives of the missing.

Yonhap news agency reported that one family member shouted, "We are a nervous wreck here, and this is something to commemorate for you?"

Blue House spokesman Min Kyung-wook said the government accepted Song's resignation "as a warning to others, as he has raised public resentment by trying to take commemorative photos without understanding the feeling of the families of the victims and lost persons."

It was the latest of several missteps. Soon after the sinking the government announced that 368 passengers had been saved; the real number is just 174. Some relatives of the missing issued a statement saying that hours after the ship sank, no one from the government was available to brief them and they were turned back when they tried to get closer to the accident site.

There also has been criticism of the government's emergency preparedness. Various ministries set up "central emergency centers" across the country without coordinating their efforts. Some leaders lacked experience in disaster relief, including the deputy head of the Central Relief Center, who formerly led the National Archives of Korea.

Government officials have complained about false reports, and on Sunday night police arrested a woman on libel charges. Hong Ga-hye, 26, was introduced as a civilian diver in a South Korean cable news interview Friday in which she said rescue aid was not arriving as promised and that a diver communicated with a survivor through a wall of the sunken ferry, claims that authorities say were false. A sobbing Hong apologized to victims' families after appearing at a police station.

About 250 of the missing and dead are students from a single high school near Seoul who were on their way to the southern tourist island of Jeju.

Divers were unable for days to enter the submerged ship because of strong currents, bad weather and low visibility. Over the weekend they were able to use a new entryway through the dining hall, resulting in a jump in the discovery of corpses.

On Jindo, relatives of the missing must search white signboards giving sparse details such as gender, height, hair length and clothing to see if their loved ones have been found.

No names are listed, just the slimmest of clues about mostly young lives now lost. Many favored hoodies and track pants. One girl painted her fingernails red and toenails black. Another had braces on her teeth.

"I'm afraid to even look at the white boards," said Lim Son-mi, 50, whose 16-year-old daughter, Park Hye-son, has not been found. "Because all the information is quite similar, whenever I look at it, my heart breaks."

Relatives have already lined up to give DNA samples at the gymnasium where many are staying, to make bodies easier to identify when they are recovered.

A transcript released by the coast guard Sunday shows the ship, which carried 476 people, was crippled by confusion and indecision well after it began listing Wednesday.

About 30 minutes after the Sewol began tilting, a crew member repeatedly asked a marine traffic controller whether passengers would be rescued if they abandoned the ship off South Korea's southern coast.

That followed several statements from the ship that people aboard could not move and another in which someone said it was "impossible to broadcast" instructions.

The cause of the disaster is not yet known, but prosecutors have said the ship made a sharp turn before it began to list.

The Sewol's captain was arrested Saturday, along with one of the ship's three helmsmen and a 25-year-old third mate. The third mate was steering at the time of the accident, in a challenging area where she had not steered before, and the captain said he was not on the bridge at the time.

Authorities have not identified the third mate, though a colleague identified her as Park Han-kyul. Senior prosecutor Ahn said Monday that the third mate has told investigators why she made the sharp turn, but he would not reveal her answer, and more investigation is needed to determine whether the answer is accurate.

___

Kim reported from Mokpo, South Korea. Associated Press writers Foster Klug, Youkyung Lee, Jung-yoon Choi and Leon Drouin-Keith in Seoul and Minjeong Hong in Jindo contributed to this report.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Despite recommended limits on codeine use in children, the potent painkiller is prescribed for children in at least half a million emergency room visits each year, a study suggests.

Use of the drug in that setting is hardly rampant - just 3 percent of kids' ER visits resulted in a codeine prescription in 2010, the 10-year study found. But with more than 25 million ER visits by children each year, the authors say far too many kids are getting the drug when better options are available.

THE CONCERNS

Codeine is an opiate drug and a genetic variation makes some people metabolize it too quickly, potentially resulting in dangerous side effects including excessive sleepiness and difficulty breathing. The Food and Drug Administration issued its strictest warning last year about a rare risk for life-threatening complications or death in children given the drug after certain surgeries. It advises using codeine for children's pain only if anticipated benefits outweigh the risks.

Another genetic variation makes the drug ineffective for pain relief in as many as a third of patients. Codeine was once commonly used for coughs, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against that use because of the risks and no evidence it relieves coughs.

THE FINE PRINT

Injuries and respiratory symptoms are the top reasons for children's ER visits. The study authors analyzed 2001-10 national data on ER visits for kids aged 3 to 17. The portion of visits where codeine was prescribed dipped slightly during the study. But the authors estimated the yearly number of codeine visits ranged from almost 560,000 to 877,000. Information on any side effects was not included in the data.

The study was published online Monday in Pediatrics.

WHAT DO DOCTORS SAY?

Dr. Kathleen Neville, a pediatric drug expert at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, said it's likely the numbers have declined since the study ended, given the FDA's black box warning.

Dr. Bradley Berg, medical director of McLane Children's Clinic in Round Rock, Texas, said some ER doctors may have been unaware of pediatricians' guidelines on limiting codeine's use, or recalled getting the drug themselves as children, when its use was more common, with no ill effects.

Dr. Alfred Sacchetti, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, says codeine can be safely used in many children, especially older kids. Children typically are monitored in the ER after getting codeine and would not be sent home with a prescription if they had a bad reaction or it didn't work, he said.

THE ADVICE

Children on codeine who develop breathing problems or unusual sleepiness should get immediate medical attention, the FDA says. The study's lead author, Dr. Sunitha Kaiser, an associate pediatrics professor at the University of California, San Francisco, says doctors and parents should know about codeine's drawbacks and that alternatives are available, including dark honey for coughs in children over age 1; and ibuprofen or the opiate drug hydrocodone, for pain including broken bones.

---

Online:

American Academy of Pediatrics: HTTP://WWW.AAP.ORG

FDA: HTTP://TINYURL.COM/AEXYKVF

---

AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached atHTTP://WWW.TWITTER.COM/LINDSEYTANNER

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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