Two days before the 2014 Boston Marathon, New Canaan's Melissa Cutler started getting "nervous and a little anxious."

"There is so much emotion attached to this race," Cutler, who was about to run her seventh Boston Marathon, said.

But when she arrived in downtown Boston on Monday, Cutler was shocked to find the biggest crowd she's ever witnessed and twice as many runners as in last year's race.

"It was great," Cutler said. "It was just the most amazing experience. It's almost indescribable."

A year after two pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the marathon's finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260, about 36,000 runners registered for the 26.2-mile course, which is more than twice the participants who entered in 2013.

Cutler said she had never seen a more "supportive crowd." She said the best word to describe the event was "love."

"It was love between runners, spectators, volunteers. This was a day that we were as one," Cutler said. "I've never run a marathon like that."

Cutler has been running marathons for years. When the bombs went off at the finish line last year, Cutler already had finished the race and was at her hotel getting her luggage.

"From the moment I left Boston last year, I couldn't wait to get back there and run again," she said. "There is just a call to get there and take the marathon and this sacred event back."

The New Canaan woman said the fact that an American won the men's division made this year's event even more special. Meb Keflezighi, an Olympic medalist, was the first American to win the race since 1985, when Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach took the women's title.

"I found out (that he won) at mile 18, and I just started crying," Cutler said. "The fact that an American won was just so great. It's more than a gold medal. It could not have come up on a better day."

As far as security, Cutler said the number of enforcement officers was much greater than any previous Boston marathons she's been to. She said there was tight security along the entire race.

"They had people on the rooftops, undercover people," Cutler said. "There were dogs, police, military. The whole course was covered (with security personnel), that we could see, but I'm sure there was a lot we couldn't see.

Cutler also noticed that most

officers were facing the crowd,

rather than the runners, which she hadn't seen before. In addition, marathon officials asked spectators to carry personal items in clear plastic bags., 203-330-6582, @olivnelson