2015-10-28 / Front Page

Running On Empty: Tight Security Changes Ruled NYC Marathon

By Liz Goff
Runners participating in the 2015 New York City Marathon found themselves running without “CamelBaks” – hydration backpacks filled with water and containers larger than 1 liter as they mark their way along the annual 26-mile, 385-yard trek through the five boroughs on November 1.

Security measures put in place after the 2013 terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and wounded more than 260 made necessary a series of “don’ts” at the annual New York City race.

The rules affected the more than 50,000 runners expected to participate in this year’s marathon – as well as volunteers and spectators who annually cheer on the runners from the sidelines.

A list of items that remained banned by the marathon sponsor, The New York Road Runners Club, the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies along the route includes all backpacks, handbags, purses and tote bags, strollers, skateboards, bicycles, watered backpacks (CamelBaks), containers larger than 1 liter, vests with pockets, bulky costumes, face masks and markings that cover the face and any bulky, non-formfitting outfits extending “beyond the perimeter of the body.”

In other words, anyone planning to join the race or the spectators dressed as Superman as allowed in. But if you showed up dressed as a gorilla, you might as well have stayed at home. Police said the rules applied to the runners, as well as volunteers and spectators who decided to show up wearing their Halloween costumes this year. “We were prepared to deal with anyone who arrived wearing a costume they wore to a Halloween party or other celebration on October 31,” police officials said. “It was highly likely that someone would show up directly from a costume party to watch the runners,” a police source said.

Officials last week released a partial, preliminary list of items banned at the 2015 Marathon and said they expected to expand the list before the November 1 race.

Perhaps the most significant change to local residents was a requirement that volunteers must register beforehand to work at fluid stations (watering stations) that line the marathon route.

In prior years, local residents were able to sign up to volunteer with community or civic organizations that sponsor the watering stations. That’s all changed now, and volunteers had to pre-register to receive personalized credentials from New York Road Runners.

A team of “Station Support” volunteers was present at each watering station to help things run smoothly at the 2015 race through the five boroughs. The teams checked everyone, in and out of the stations and spectator areas and handed out credentials to approved volunteers.

Law enforcement sources said additional security measures were installed at “sensitive locations” throughout the marathon route, like the 13.5 mile mark at 43rd Avenue and Crescent Street in Long Island City (at the foot of the Queensborough Bridge) and at other locations near bridges and tunnels.

“The Finish Line was locked up and secured in advance of the race to secure the safety of runners, spectators and others working at the site,” a top-ranking NYPD official said. “We provided a safe, secure environment where everyone was able to enjoy the race and cheer on the runners.”

Sources said city cops and members of the Joint Terrorist Task Force sealed manhole covers, mailboxes and wastebaskets along the route in the days preceding the race. “It’s really nothing new to these folks,” law enforcement sources said. “They go in, take care of business and leave the area without fanfare on a regular basis.”

The 2015 New York City Marathon called for more than 50,000 medals and T-shirts, 2,500 blankets, 730 tubes of K-Y Jelly, 35,500 Mylar blankets, 1,560 stretchers, 45 medical units, 1 major field hospital, more than 10.000 volunteers, 1,550 Marshals, 3,500 Police Officers, hundreds of computers, 300 buses, 18,000 yards of barricade tape, 115,000 safety pins, 21,000 feet of rope, 700 portable toilets, 500 six-foot tables, 10,000 feet of snow fencing, 2,000 medical volunteers, more than 40,000 cups of coffee, 4 tons of ice, 2 ½ tons of bagels, almost 199,000 bottles of water, 337 banners, 3,193 pounds of Trail Mix, 50,500 Milky Way Bars and approximately 50,000 pairs of running shoes.

The marathon runs each year through Long Island City, where more than 200 local volunteers work each year cheering-on the runners and keeping them hydrated at the Fluid Station at 43rd Avenue and Crescent Street, Marathon captain Gerald Walsh said. The station has been sponsored and operated for 31 years by the Dutch Kills Civic Association of Long Island City, Walsh said.

Walsh, a former president of the civic group, said he and his volunteers offered fresh fruit, bottled water and other beverages to runners as they passed through the halfway mark in the most prestigious marathon in the world.

Walsh said the civic group worked with the Station Support team and local law enforcement officials to comply with the new security measures. “A tremendous amount of work goes into operating the watering station each year,” Walsh said. “We are foremost concerned with making the event a pleasant, fun day for the runners and spectators. We’ll leave security to the experts, the NYPD and other agencies that look out for our safety every day of every year,” Walsh said.

The race also calls for 290 gallons of “Marathon Blue” paint, computer generated numbers for each runner, 65 domestic race directors, 95 foreign race officials and a sea of blue uniforms – police officers who line the path of the race, directing traffic, keeping the surging crowd in check and, in a few cases, cheering-on members of the NYPD who are running in the 2015 New York City Marathon.

And for the record, those 50,500 Milky Way bars equal a total of 11,625,000 calories. “Calories for fleet feet,” a marathon spokesperson said.

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