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Ethiopia’s Teyba Erkesso ended up winning the women’s division of today’s Boston Marathon by a hair: a mere three seconds over Russia’s Tatyana Pushkareva. But when we saw Erkesso cruising past Newton’s 18-mile mark, she was far ahead of the rest of the elite women front-runners.

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Long after the elite men, women, and wheelchair runners have passed, the fun of Marathon Day lies in cheering on the ordinary folks far back in the pack.

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These runners aren’t racing the men and women next to them; their only competition is the nagging voice inside that whispers “Stop” and “I can’t!” The job of marathon spectators is to overwhelm that small, nagging voice with clapping, shouting, drumming, chanting, cow-bell ringing, and sign-waving.

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The flip-side of that final sign read “Keep going,” and the boy holding it dutifully flipped between one side and the other as runners raced past. You can see more photos of marathon runners and spectators in this photo-set: enjoy!