Providing security along a 26.2-mile marathon course is a logistical nightmare

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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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, organizers of road races are trying to figure how to improve security after the Boston Marathon bombings.

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

Organizers of the London Marathon, scheduled to be run Sunday, said they were reviewing security for a race that is expected to attract 30,000 participants and half a million spectators.

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.”

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