Boston runners to honour slain Chinese student
Fifteen spots will be reserved for people to commemorate Lu Lingzi, one of three people killed in attack on marathon last year
The organisers of the Boston Marathon have reserved 15 places for runners to compete in honour of Lu Lingzi, the mainland student who died in the bombing attack on the event last year, local media have reported.
Lu, a 23-year-old graduate student at Boston University majoring in mathematics and statistics, was watching the race when two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the crowded finish line, killing her and two others. Hundreds more were injured, including Lu's friend, fellow student Zhou Denling.
Organiser Boston Athletic Association said it had reserved 10 spots for Lu's family to fill with runners of their choosing, and another five would be decided by members of the Boston University community, according to school newspaper, BU Today.
"Through my interactions with them, this family has shown me what grace is all about," dean of students Kenneth Elmore told the newspaper.
"For them to think of us during their time of sadness and sorrow, and to give the people in this community the chance to show their support in such a spectacular way, we should be humbly honoured."
Any money raised by the runners will be donated to the Lu Lingzi Scholarship Fund.
With only 10 weeks left until the race, the positions have been exempted from the usual registration requirements, including qualifying time and fundraising minimum, according to the Boston Athletic Association. Traditionally, the organisation sets the qualifying time for each bracket of participant. This year, runners in the adult men category must have completed a marathon in no more than three hours and five minutes, while the minimum for the woman's field is three hours and 35 minutes.
Students, faculty or alumni who are interested in one of the five spots are encouraged to apply through a written statement or video stating what taking part in the tribute means to them.
The applications, which close this Friday, will be reviewed by the Dean of Students Office, Office of the Provost, the Lu family and other administrative offices of the university community.
The suspects in the attack last year on April 15 were identified three days later as Chechen brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tamerlan, 26, was killed during a firefight with police, while his younger brother Dzhokhar, 20, was apprehended while hiding in a boat and remains in custody. He has pleaded not guilty to using a mass weapon of destruction.
A few days after the blast, US President Obama attended a special service at Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
"Our prayers are with the Lu family of China who sent their daughter Lingzi here so she could experience all the city had to offer. A 23-year-old student far from home," Obama said at the service.
"And in the heartache of her family and friends on both sides of the great ocean, we're reminded of the humanity that we all share."