This year's field of more than 32,000 runners — up from 27,000 last year — were supported on the course by a crowd estimated at one million people, double the size of previous years.

"The support of the fans from Hopkinton all the way to Boylston (Street), you wouldn't believe it," Petaluma's Dave Houts, 50, said. "It was like you were on center stage the whole time. They (spectators) were phenomenal."

Gloria Nunez of Petaluma was happiest of all to see her 12-year-old son, who was with other family members outside a fire station near the lung-busting Newton hills.

"I was so grateful to see them," Nunez said. "I was starting to feel a little sad at that point, getting ready to get up the hills."

The 39-year-old nurse and software developer said she teared up at other times because her emotions got the best of her.

She described a sea of signs held aloft by spectators, including those that read, "Thank you for running" and "You're our hero."

"I'm glad I did it. I have no regrets," said Nunez, who finished in 3 hours and 22 minutes.

Houts, a retired Cotati police sergeant who finished the marathon in 3 hours and 17 minutes, said the event drew an "unbelievable" number of law enforcement personnel. He said the only problem he witnessed was a police officer escorting a runner who wasn't wearing an official race bib off of the course.

There were no reports of any major incidents during Monday's marathon. Instead, runners were greeted with an outpouring of goodwill and nearly ideal weather conditions for tackling Boston's notoriously challenging course.

"The enthusiasm out there was just phenomenal. You could tell Boston (residents) were out there pushing us and supporting us," said Santa Rosa's Debbie DeCarli, 62, who completed the marathon in 3 hours and 55 minutes.

DeCarli, an Agilent Technologies contract worker who heard the bombings after she crossed the finish line of last year's marathon, said she never felt unsafe Monday.

"Oh my God, there was security everywhere, not only police, but military," she said. "I felt real secure."

Houts' focus afterward was on icing his sore legs. He said he was disappointed in his finish time, even though it was only two minutes off his personal record.

"I'll take it," he said. "It qualified me again for (Boston) next year."

(You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or On Twitter @deadlinederek)