Salt Lake City Marathon to take extra security measures in wake of Boston bombing
Laura Seitz, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Ryan Kelly won't let the deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon deter him from competing in one of the Salt Lake City Marathon races Saturday.
"I'm still planning on running the half marathon. Life is not risk free. We need to be cautious, but we also need to get on with our lives," the Salt Lake resident said.
His attitude appears to typify that of the more than 7,000 runners and cyclists expected to participate in a marathon, half marathon, 5K or bike tour through the streets of the Salt Lake Valley.
"We haven't had anyone back out," said Salt Lake City Marathon director Steve Bingham.
Bingham met Tuesday with police and EMS workers from Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, Murray, the University of Utah and Unified police as previously scheduled for race preparations. But security moved to the top of the agenda after two bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line killed three people and injured nearly 150 more on Monday.
"I think people will notice an increased presence by police at the finish line as well as at the starting line," he said. The race also will have an extra ambulance available.
The Salt Lake City Marathon will be among the first races in the U.S. since Boston, and the only Boston Marathon qualifier, Bingham said.
Bingham is encouraging athletes to bring only necessary items in their gear bags. But he's asking spectators to leave bags and backpacks at home.
"We're trying to help our police out. Obviously, they're going to be concerned with a lot of things that day. Bringing extra bags that we need to worry about people leaving in different areas isn't something we want to have on our task list that day," he said.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder and Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank said officers can't be everywhere on the race course.
"We're really going to rely on folks to assist us," Winder said.
The Salt Lake City Police Department has electronic means for spectators to alert officers to suspicious behavior. Tips and photos may be shared anonymously via text message using the keywords TIPSLCPD and MARATHON. The online service can be accessed at www.tipsubmit.com/webtipsstart.aspx.
Information and images also may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will only be operational during until the end of the marathon. The Salt Lake police telephone tipline, 801-799-3000, will also be available.
“What we need most from the public is their support in providing specific information about suspicious activity they may see along the 26.2 miles of the course,” Burbank said. “If you see something, say something.”
Still, Winder said Utahns can't allow the remote possibility of something bad happening to dampen a joyous event.
"We're not living in Israel. We're not living in Pakistan. We're not living in Afghanistan," he said. "We're living in Salt Lake City. We're quite safe."
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