CHICAGO| There were more police officers and certainly more fences, but plenty more runners were there as well.
If security was a concern at the first major U.S. foot race since April’s Boston Marathon bombing, it wasn’t evident, as a record-number 40,230 runners hit the streets for the 36th annual Chicago Marathon.
Race participants may have had to go out of their way after they finished the race due to the amount of fences, but local runners said that was a small price to pay for the added security measures.
“There was a (security) presence on the course,” Valparaiso resident Jeff Waseman said. “I felt safe.”
Race officials made four widespread changes in the wake of the Boston bombings, including shutting down the finish line to open spectator access. Individuals wishing to see runners finish the race needed tickets that were available through a variety of charity organizations. Other security changes included added documentation and the use of clear plastic bags for running gear.
“With Boston this year, that was top-of-mind,” said race director Carey Pinkowski, a Hammond High School grad. “I think (the record number of participants) is an example of how resilient and strong the running community is. It’s a testimony to what the marathon is about and who the people that participate are about. The marathon is a celebration of humanity.”
Valparaiso resident Crystal Siewin echoed Pinkowski’s statements after she completed the 26.2-mile race. Siewin ran at the Boston Marathon and made the decision on April 15 that she would be returning in 2014.
“I ran today and will be back in Boston for my pride,” Siewin said. “It will be to make my point that what they did isn’t going to stop us from running. The running community is one that stands up and we feel pride for who we are and what we represent.”
Most runners said if they thought about Boston on Sunday, it was only in the back of their minds. Race participants never felt threatened and when the starting gun went off, all that mattered was finishing the race.
“You put so much into the training for the last 20 weeks, that’s what is on your mind,” Valparaiso’s Jeff Cromer said. “I was just focused on today.”