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Extra security set for Saturday's Indianapolis mini-marathon

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Friday, May 3, 2013 - 6:34 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Some new rules and extra security measures will be in place for Saturday's 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis, changers organizers say are in response to safety concerns raised since the Boston Marathon bombings.

The expected 35,000 runners and walkers have been told not to have backpacks or duffel bags and bring personal items only in the white plastic bags they received at their registration pickup in the days before the race.

Festival spokeswoman Megan Bulla said that runners' bib numbers will be watched more closely to make sure they are in the correct areas before the race begins.

"We've been a little more lenient about that in the past, hanging out with their friends before the race," Bulla told WISH-TV. "If you don't have a bib and you are not in the right area you won't be allowed in."

Many of the security changes aren't drastic, but prudent, said Gary Coons, chief of the Indianapolis Division of Homeland Security. The 13.1-mile route goes from the city's downtown to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a lap around its oval and then back downtown.

Officials will have some additional bomb-sniffing dogs, cameras and police officers — in uniforms and in plain clothes — involved with security measures before and during the race, Coons said.

A "quick-response team" will be nearby on standby in case something happens. Additional security cameras will be monitored throughout the race, meaning a bag left unattended or someone acting suspiciously could be seen and cause action to be taken.

Coons said he was confident the event is as safe as it can be.

"I don't want the people who attacked Boston to cause us to change our way of life," he told The Indianapolis Star.

Bulla said race organizers have been working closely the city's public safety officials on the safety plans.

"They all came together and helped write our plan, and we obviously reviewed it in light of what happened in Boston," she said.

Dana Lasek, a 47-year-old psychologist, finished the Boston Marathon about a half-hour before the bombs went off when she was about three blocks away. She said she plans on returning to the Boston race next year and didn't hesitate about running the Indianapolis race.

"I did not rethink doing the Mini," Lasek told the Star. "I wanted to run it for Boston, to let them know we're not going to be afraid."