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Safe runnings


Security for the OKC Memorial Marathon is heightened in the aftermath of the Boston attacks.

Tim Farley April 24th, 2013

Oklahoma City police say strengthened security should make runners and spectators feel more comfortable during Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on Sunday.

Police Chief Bill Citty
Credit: Shannon Cornman

OKC Police Chief Bill Citty called the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon a “reminder that we need to be as vigilant as possible all the time. I think the increased law enforcement presence will make everyone a little more relaxed.”

Multiple law enforcement agencies will comprise the security detail on race day with special emphasis given to certain areas of the 26.2-mile course. The marathon begins and ends at the OKC National Memorial downtown and extends as far northwest as Lake Hefner.

“Some spots may be more restricted than in the past,” the chief said.

The police department is the lead agency for marathon security but will be aided by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, state National Guard, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department and other metro law enforcement.

Increased public awareness also will play a pivotal role in the Memorial Marathon. 

“People who see anything suspicious should report it immediately to one of the officers along the route,” Citty said.

Citty conceded organizers of large events have been “too confident in the past and so relaxed when nothing happens.”

Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, said the Boston tragedy has not affected the number of runners for the OKC marathon.

Kari Watkins

“I think we had more people enter than pull out after that happened,” she said. “We have examined and re-examined our [security] plans. Let’s just say we have it covered.”

Citty acknowledged that blanketing OKC with law enforcement personnel can’t prevent all tragedies.

“There’s always more you can do.

You can’t make anything fool-proof,” he said.


‘Not afraid’
The attack in Boston hasn’t deterred Emily Bonner from taking a group of children from McKinley Elementary in Norman to the marathon. The students have been training for months and will run in the children’s marathon.

Bonner was at the Boston Marathon, watching a friend compete, when the bombs exploded by the finish line.

“Oklahomans will do everything they can to make it (the OKC marathon) as safe as it could be,” said Bonner, a volunteer running coach for the McKinley kids. “Most of the parents have said, ‘We’re not going to be fearful.’” The schoolchildren will be wearing red socks as a tribute to the victims and survivors of the attacks in Boston.

“This is our way of showing support for those people,” Bonner said. “We’re not afraid.”


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