BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Athletic Association has launched an app that aims to allow runners who can't participate in the 2014 Boston Marathon to feel like a part of it.
People who download the Boston Marathon World Run app are encouraged to set fitness goals they hope to accomplish by the April 21, even if they won't be in Boston or can't run a full 26.2 miles that day.
The race is tough to get into anyway, and there was even more interest this year because of the 2013 bombing that killed three people, injured more than 260 others and stranded many runners on the course.
The field has been expanded to 36,000 runners, 9,000 more than last year, but there's still not enough room for everyone who wants to participate. Runners must either be part of charity teams or run a certain time in another race to qualify. People will also get to run this year if they were on the course when the bombs went off and didn't get to finish.
The free app and corresponding website will allow runners to share photos, post mileage and connect with amateur and elite athletes. People on six continents have signed up.
"Whether you can run a 3:30 marathon or are from Southern Cambodia, everyone can take part," said T.K. Skenderian, marketing and sponsorship manager for the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon.
Users can set individual goals or target mileage for groups or run their own 26.2-mile course on Marathon Monday. Participants who reach their goals will receive a printable bib number, a finisher's certificate and a Facebook medal.
Kelly Lynch, 31, of California, said she hopes to run 6 miles without stopping on April 21 and will use the app to connect with friends and family back home.
"We are all affected by what happened last year," said Lynch, who grew up in Winchester, Mass., and graduated from Boston College.