Chicago Marathon Marks First Major U.S. Race Since Boston Bombings
Heightened security was hard to miss Sunday at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, in which 40,320 runners from 120 countries and all 50 states participated.
The 36th annual marathon started and ended in downtown Chicago, and took runners through several trendy neighborhoods along the Chicago lakefront. To protect the runners and crowds, authorities conducted bag searches, brought in bomb-sniffing dogs, set up barricades on top of barricades, and had police officers patrolling every inch of the course.
Even federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Service stepped in to help.
Runners and their supporters waited in long lines just to get inside Grant Park through one of four security checkpoints, CBS Chicago reported.
One participant told Steve Miller of WBBM Newsradio she had finished the Boston Marathon this past April 15 before the bombings, and said security at the Chicago Marathon was good and seemed well-managed.
The security was not overtly visible, but that may have been how police and spectators wanted it, reported Derrick Blakley of WBBM-TV, CBS 2 Chicago.
“I live in the area. It’s such a safe neighborhood. I haven’t felt any of the increased security here,” participant Aisha Lewit of Chicago’s Lakeview section said.
The enhanced security made it more difficult for Jo Ann Surman of Chicago to meet her daughter right at the finish line, but they chose another meeting spot — and didn’t mind. Surman wore a Boston Red Sox shirt.
“I just wanted to put this on today to let other people see that we still think of them,” she said, referring to the victims and Boston residents in general.
No problems were reported at the race as of Sunday afternoon, Chicago Police said.
Dennis Kimetto of Kenya was the winner of the Chicago Marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 45 seconds.
Tight security is also expected when the ING New York City Marathon comes around on Sunday, Nov. 3. The New York Road Runners group has added categories of items to its list of prohibited items.
For both spectators and runners, the following items are prohibited from entering any New York marathon venue – including the Expo, the Marathon Opening Ceremony, the Start Village, the Family Reunion, the Grandstand Finish Line Bleachers, and all Marathon Pavilion events:
Weapons of any sort, including guns, knives, mace, etc.;
Any dangerous items or “dual use” items that could pose a threat;
Flammable liquids, fuels, fireworks or explosives;
Large packages, coolers, tents or lean-tos;
Animals and pets;
Duvets, sleeping bags, and large blankets or comforters.
For runners, the following items are also forbidden:
Containers of liquid larger than 1 liter;
Suitcases and rolling bags;
Backpacks and any bags other than the official Start Village and UPS bags;
Cameblaks and any type of hydration backpacks;
Weight vests or any sort of vest with pockets;
Costumers covering the face or any non-form-fitting, bulky outfits that extend beyond the body’s perimeter;
Props such as sporting equipment, military and fire gear, or signs larger than 11 x 17.
All items brought into marathon venues and events will be subject to inspection by the New York Road Runners, private security personnel, and the NYPD.
During the Boston Marathon on April 15, three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two bombs went off near the finish line.
One of the suspects — Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 – was killed four days later after a gun battle with police. The other – his young brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20 – was found wounded and hiding in a boat in Watertown, Mass., and was awaiting trial as of this month after pleading not guilty to 30 federal charges.
Last year’s New York City Marathon was canceled due to damage from Superstorm Sandy days earlier, following a backlash when Mayor Michael Bloomberg previously announced that the race would go ahead.
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