By: Alexandra Ilitch Staff Writer
With April’s marathon bombing in Boston, runners participating in the Lansing Marathon the weekend of April 21 were concerned about security arrangements for the marathon, said Robert Merritt, PIO for the City of Lansing.
Two marathons took place that weekend. The first was a half marathon on Saturday, and the full marathon took place on Sunday.
“Everything will remain the same, because when we plan for a major event such as this, as a department, we start planning with the coordinators about four months out,” Merritt said.
Merritt also said that a lot goes into the game plan for a marathon.
“We have definitely stepped up our measures,” he said. “We’re focusing on security by tightening it.”
Merritt said that before any major event, they bring canines—police sniffing dogs—in and conduct a “sweep.” During this process, the dogs look for explosives and anything else that may be a threat to the city. The city plans for sweeps before and during the event.
As part of the increased security measures, the police sweep the marathon route twice as opposed to once.
“If we get a possible hit, we will take specific measures to clear areas like we normally would, following protocol,” Merritt said.
He also said police officers mingle with the crowd to be sure nothing unusual happens. “We have motorcycle units that ride the course at least twice prior to the race, to make sure there aren’t any compromises that could put anyone in danger throughout the course.”
Merritt said that there are about 25 officers assigned to different intersections and points of the route. There are also about five motorcycle units riding the route as well.
“The biggest concern for us is not a terrorist threat, it’s more so the bottleneck of traffic with all of the road closures,” he said. “We will never let our guard down.”
John Pfeiffer, marathon runner, participated in the half marathon, which took place on Saturday. It was his first time running in the Lansing half marathon after he had formerly ran in the Capital River Half, which took place in 2008.
Pfeiffer said that he was not skeptical about running the marathon.
“The race organizers were proactive and sent an email to the race participants shortly after the events in Boston,” he said. “The message addressed my concerns.”
Pfeiffer said that the amount of security provided for this event made him feel very safe, even though it was never really a concern for him.
“I lived in Lansing for a couple of years in the 1990s, so I feel safe there,” he said.
Kayla Huntoon, another participant in the marathon, said that she did feel slightly worried about the marathon, due to the tragic events that occurred in Boston.
Huntoon also said that as soon as she arrived at the race, she felt safe and secure.
“The city did a great job in helping us runners feel safe by providing information about the extra security precautions that had taken place prior to race day,” she said. “There were many police officers working and I did not feel unsafe during any part of the day!”
Huntoon said that this was her first time running the Lansing Marathon and she will definitely do it again next year.