Safety plan means secure Flying Pig Marathon

Planning done in wake of Boston bombings

CINCINNATI - The 15th running of the Flying Pig Marathon was safe, secure and successful, according to Executive Director Iris Simpson-Bush.
 
That was due in large part to the extra security planning that took place after the bombings during the Boston Marathon on April 15.

"I think our entire community should feel good that the resources are here when we need them," Simpson-Bush said. "They're responsive to our needs, careful to preplan and those plans were seamlessly carried out."

Police were hard at work along the 26.2-mile course several hours before the 6:30 a.m. start of the race on Mehring Way outside Paul Brown Stadium.

Explosive-sniffing dogs checked cars, bags, trash cans and anything else that might pose a security threat.

Cincinnati Police SWAT team members were dressed in full assault gear.

Members of several branches of the military assisted hundreds of volunteers in staffing checkpoints.

Runners immediately noticed the heightened activity.

"I was a little nervous seeing all of the extra people and police officers down here guarding, but it makes me feel a lot safer out here running," said Rachel Yarman of West Price Hill.

Mike and Lynn Carney stopped to gaze at the security maze laid out before them and lamented that a sport as pure as running needed such protection.

"Pretty soon, I expect to see it in any venue that has this many people involved," Mike Carney said.

"We can't let it stop us," Lynn Carney added. "We gotta have fun."

Runners and spectators had been warned for weeks that anything brought to the course had to be in clear plastic bags that were widely distributed.

Delhi Township resident Jill Lapari said that part of the security plan made her feel extra safe.

"It was really easy," she said. "They supplied us with the bags and told us exactly what to bring and I don't think anyone's having a problem."

People who didn't get the word and still brought backpacks to the area had to empty the contents into clear plastic bags.

The race began without incident at 6:30 a.m. after a moment of silence for the Boston victims and the singing of Boston's favorite song, "Sweet Caroline."

Cloudy skies that had produced a few early raindrops cleared to let the rising sun create a rainbow set against a striking background of orange-shaded clouds.  

In just over an hour, Justin Scheid of Sparta, N.J., crossed the finish line to win the Border Energy Half-Marathon. Leslie Kraus of Cleves repeated as the women's champion.

Sergio Reyes was a repeat winner in the full marathon with a time of 2:21:51 and admitted that Boston was on his mind at times during the race.

"No amount of pain that I go through today will even compare to what people went through there," he said.
"It's great to see local law enforcement doing their job and really just maintaining a presence throughout the race."

The women's champion, Rebecca Walter, of Bloomington, Ind., finished her first marathon in her first visit to Cincinnati in 2:53:58. She noticed the extra security along the course.

"It's sad and it's maddening all the way around, but it's still nice to see a record crowd of 34,000 people come out today," she said.

Most runners concentrated on the pavement in front of them to finish their particular race.

"When I saw people with Boston shirts on during the race, I thought of it, but at the finish line I didn't think of it at all," said Debbie Bereda of West Chester Township.

Amelia's Baron Hill said he liked the extra safety forces on the course -- especially when many of them cheered on the runners.

"I don't know if it really impacted my personal race or anything like that, but I definitely could tell there was a lot of security," he said.

Spectators couldn't miss the large number of law enforcement personnel at the finish line, but Anderson Township's Becka Logan said it didn't deter from her family enjoying the race.

She was cheering on her husband along with their children plus her niece and nephew.

"I think it's good," she said. "My whole family's from Boston so we were happy that we had security here at the race."

Despite the success of the 15th Flying Pig, it's a safe bet that organizers will sit down soon with police to review everything that happened during the race.

If changes need to be made, they'll be in place for the 16th race in May 2014.

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