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Marathon officials know better security difficult

April 16, 2013 • National News


A member of the National Guard and a Boston policeman direct a man away from a barricade near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston Tuesday, April 16, 2013. The bombs that ripped through the Boston Marathon crowd were fashioned out of ordinary kitchen pressure cookers, packed with nails and other fiendishly lethal shrapnel, and hidden in duffel bags left on the ground, people close to the investigation said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

A marathon course runs 26.2 miles along an open road. Much tougher to secure than an arena with doors and walls.

Yet across the U.S. and around the world, from West Bend, Wis., and London this weekend, to Nashville, Tenn., next week and Copenhagen next month, organizers of road races are trying to figure out how to improve security after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Paris Marathon director Joel Laine, whose race was held earlier this month, put it this way Tuesday: “There will be a ‘before’ and ‘after-Boston’” from now on.

Still, with thousands — and sometimes hundreds of thousands — of spectators and entrants scattered along the route, there are limits to how much can be done to protect everyone, marathon officials, experts and runners cautioned. They spoke in dozens of interviews with the AP a day after a pair of bombs went off seconds apart near the finish line in Boston, killing three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injuring more than 170 others.

“This is what everyone thought might happen” following the 9/11 attacks, said Tom Derderian, coach of the Greater Boston Track Club and author of a book about the Boston Marathon.

“This is a 26-mile foot race. With both sides of the street, that’s 52 miles to secure,” Derderian said. “How? You can’t have everyone go through metal detectors.”

Marathons aren’t just for elite athletes: They have steadily increased in popularity among recreational runners and those raising money for charity. In the aftermath of Monday’s attack, which President Barack Obama called an act of terrorism, some marathons heard from runners wondering whether races would be canceled. Yet nearly 40 events, all over the globe, are set for this weekend alone — including Hamburg, Belgrade, Salt Lake City, Lansing, Mich., and the Jersey Shore. There was no indication that any would be called off.

Scott Dickey, CEO of Competitor Group Inc., which manages more than 35 marathons and half marathons around the world, said he’s “been in deep conversations already” with the Login to read more

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