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The first wave of Boston Marathon competitors hit the pavement at 8:50 a.m. Monday, the first of 36,000 entrants hoping to endure the 26.1 miles from Hopkinton, Mass., to downtown Boston.

The 118th running of the venerable race comes a year after twin bombings at the finish line killed three people and wounding more that 260.

As many as 5,000 runners who were unable to cross the finish line at Boylston Street last year because of the explosions are back.

While security is tight, including 3,500 police officers in uniform and plain clothes, 100 cameras and strict restrictions on what spectators and runners can carry, Massachusetts police are promising a fun and celebratory environment.

“We want families and kids and everyone to come out and cheer on our runners,” said Col. Tim Alben of Mass. State Police. “This is a great day for Massachusetts and the city of Boston and for our country,” he said, according to NBC affiliate NECN.

The mobility impaired runners led the pack Monday morning. They will be followed by the wheel chair division and then hand-cycles before the elite women start at 9:32 a.m. The elite men and masses follow beginning at 10 a.m.