In the wake of the tragic bombings at the marathon in Boston, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will still go on as planned, race organizers said Monday.
Carey Pinkowski, executive director for the Chicago Marathon, said he and his team are ready to address security concerns head on.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with our colleagues at the Boston Marathon, and with the spectators, participants, volunteers and loved ones who were affected by yesterday’s tragic events. As a partner in the World Marathon Majors, we offer our full support of the Boston Athletic Association and the City of Boston as they work through the horrific events that took place. We want to reassure those registered for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and the family members, friends and volunteers who plan to support them, that we are in constant communication with the City of Chicago, the Office of Emergency Management and Communication, the Chicago Police and Fire Departments regarding the security plan that is implemented at the Chicago Marathon. As our top priority, we work in lockstep with these agencies to ensure the safest possible event for everyone involved. As we do each year and throughout the year, we will sit down with these agencies and conduct a comprehensive security review as part of the planning process for this year’s event.”
The Chicago Marathon attracts more than 37,000 runners and even more spectators. Some local runners said they never questioned security at races before but the tragedy in Boston gave them pause.
"I'm very shocked about this," runner Maureen Knorring said. "I think a lot of people are, and I think it will affect future races."
Security experts who worked with Chicago during the NATO Summit said preparation is key to keeping things safe.
"We removed a lot of the devices that could be used to hide a bomb," said Thomas Kasza of Hillard Heintze. "It's not just garbage containers. It's the clean area around mass gatherings."
The Chicago Marathon website shows there already is a public safety alert system in place for runners to not only know the condition of the course for weather but for any other situation.
"It's the top of what we do," Pinkowski said of security preparations, "putting our resources against it. We do secure the route. I mean this is a unique situation, a terrible situation."
Matt Weldon, training for October's marathon, said the attacks will only make him stronger.
"I feel personally a little bit more encouraged to go out and run more races to prove that they're not getting their point across," Weldon said.
Like Weldon many other runners told NBC Chicago they want to take a stand and prove the Chicago Marathon is better than ever.
Leading the marathon's website is a special message and tribute to runners and running fans in Boston.
"The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is deeply saddened by the situation in Boston today and our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues at the Boston Marathon, and all of the spectators, participants, their families and friends."
The marathon steps off Sunday, Oct. 13.
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