NEW YORK – The New York City Marathon is hoping to make a triumphant comeback this weekend after Superstorm Sandys devastation forced its cancellation last year. And despite heightened security after the terror attack at the Boston Marathon, many of the estimated 45,000 runners are shrugging off concerns for their own safety.
Im not going to stop running the marathon because somebody thought it was a good idea to blow up a couple of bombs in Boston, 50-year-old runner Dave Kleckner said. I dont intend to run scared.
Flooding from the superstorm, which was spawned when Hurricane Sandy merged with two other weather systems, forced Kleckner and his family out of their Manhattan apartment building, but he was still gearing up to run the marathon when it was abruptly canceled just days before it was to start.
A few months later, he ran the Boston Marathon and finished before the bombs went off, then he spent an anxious night tracking down fellow members of his running club. Security isnt a concern for him in the 26.2-mile race through New Yorks five boroughs Sunday, and he even plans to have his wife and children there to cheer him on.
I wouldnt miss it for anything, he said. Except another superstorm.
Hundreds of police officers will be posted along the route. Police helicopters will patrol the skies, and police boats will keep watch from New York Harbor and the East River. As with any large-scale event in the city, police also will deploy bomb-sniffing dogs and plainclothes officers blending in with the crowd.
The New York Police Department bought 100 mobile security cameras after the Boston attack. It said those cameras will be positioned to keep an eye out for anything suspicious along the route.
But the finish line, inside Central Park, has become perhaps the biggest worry after two homemade bombs hidden in bags detonated near the finish line in Boston, killing three people and injuring more than 260.
For the first time, the city is fencing off a portion of the western perimeter of the park for the race. Spectators will have to pass through security checkpoints, where bags will be searched, to enter that area.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said security there will be tight.
It always is tight, but obviously were going to pay particular attention to that this year, he said.
Marathon organizer New York Road Runners decided it would be impractical to ban bags from the finish area. It encouraged spectators to take no more than one bag, no larger than the size of a purse, per person.
We have this real belief that running helps people. And the marathon helps this community in so many ways, NYRR president Mary Wittenberg said. We never wavered in the continuing on, preserving the best of what this is all about.