SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Security was tight at a Jersey Shore Marine Corps charity race, a year after a terror attack cut the event short.
The Seaside Semper Five 5-k race got underway Saturday morning, with local, state, and federal police standing guard with additional resources this year.
“Everybody’s excited, we actually wanted to come back bigger and stronger this year after the bombing,” race director Frank Costello told CBS2’s Reena Roy.
Costello said he expected double the crowd, as organizers moved the starting line from Seaside Park to Beachcomber in Seaside Heights to accommodate runners from all over the world.
WCBS 880’s Myles Miller reported over a thousand people from 27 states and 7 countries took part in Saturday’s race.
Joining them were authorities from different law enforcement agencies: the FBI, Homeland Security, New Jersey State Police, in addition to several local police departments.
Officers brandishing assault weapons were lined along the race route, ready to keep participants and spectators alike safe.
“We’re worried like everybody else having the federal authorities here with their willpower and their technology,” Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd said. “We’ll have drones up in the air, it’s amazing what we’re doing to protect these people.”
The security measures have been five months in the making, resulting in a comprehensive plan to protect on all fronts. Drones in the sky plus officers on the ground, on rooftops, and in the water.
“In my 34 years I’ve never seen anything like this,” Chief Boyd said. “We’ve had the vice president of the United States here and we’ve got better security here today than we did for him.”
Runners were feeling confident, choosing to focus on their race instead of any potential threats.
“I’m feeling really comfortable about the race today and really comfortable about the security being here, a huge amount of presence,” runner Catherine Taeffner said.
“It’s really great everybody came out and did a great job for us,” said runner Dan Anderson. “I appreciate it.”
“Came last year and didn’t get to run, was really disappointed. But wanted to come back this year,” runner Kelly Scott said.
Officers were spread all over the boardwalk and throughout the area with rifles in hand, combined with undercover officers blended into the crowds. In terms of security, nothing was left to chance Saturday.
“If we have to support something like this, which is very important, then we will be out here and we will take our chances and to heck with them all,” retired Marine Lawrence Migliorisi said.
For more info on the yearly event, check the organization’s website.