When terrorism backfires

It may be a little more difficult for Boston Marathon spectators to get close to runners this year. Twice as many spectators as usual are expected. AP File Photo/Mary Schwalm)

The Boston Marathon is a fairly soft target for terrorists. Twenty-six miles of city streets can’t be locked down, especially with the carnival atmosphere that accompanies the event.

“We are never going to reduce the risk to zero in any event, especially ones that attract hundreds of thousands of people, but we have to do the best we can to reduce that risk, to get it as low as possible,” Col. Timothy Alben, of the Massachusetts State Police, tells the Globe.

Terrorism only works if people are terrified; the constant din of warnings in Sochi reportedly accounts for the fact many would-be visitors have stayed away from the Olympics.

Which is what makes what’s happening in Boston in the runup to this year’s Marathon remarkable in its own right. People aren’t staying away. Quite the opposite, actually.

The Boston Globe reports today that all the city’s hotels are now sold out; the earliest the rooms have ever been gobbled up.

About 36,000 runners, including 4,500 who couldn’t finish last year’s race, are expected to compete. That’s 9,000 more than last year.

It’s not just runners.

“Everybody wants to come out and be part of this,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. “I think we’re going to see the biggest numbers we’ve had, bigger than the 100th anniversary.”

Officials say they expect twice as many people to line the route of the marathon this year, many of them considering it an act of defiance against last year’s terrorist attack.