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For Boston Marathon, Finding Lodgings Could Be The Hard Part


BOSTON, March 19 (Reuters) - Training for the Boston Marathon may be grueling, but finding a place to stay during the event is also proving a challenge for participants and supporters this year.

Hotels across Boston are already packed for the April 21 event due to a groundswell of interest after last year's bomb attack, and those who left lodging arrangements to the last minute are scrambling for rooms as far away as Rhode Island.

"I'm ready to roll, I'm in shape, I just don't know where I'm going to sleep," said Dan Miner, a 29-year-old salesman from St. Louis, who placed a wanted ad for a room in the city. He said the closest, affordable room he could find for the race was in Providence, Rhode Island's capital 40 miles (64 km) away.

Some 36,000 runners are expected to toe the starting line of the world-renowned race this year, 9,000 more than last year, to form the second-largest field in the race's 117-year history.

Marathon organizers said the enhanced participation would help accommodate about 5,624 athletes who were still on the course last year when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded and halted the race. The bombing killed three people and injured more than 260 in the worst attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

"We've been full since November," said John Maibach, general manager of theLoews Boston Hotel in the upscale Back Bay neighborhood. He said his last few rooms went for more than $500 a night, up from a normal rate of about $295.

"This is going to be a pretty popular three-day weekend in Boston, with a lot more support for the marathon than we normally get," he said.