2018-10-31 / Features

Tight Security Rules NYC Marathon

Running On Empty:
BY LIZ GOFF

Runners participating in the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 4 will once again find themselves running without “CamelBak” backpack hydration systems as they mark their way along the annual 26-mile, 385-yard run through the five boroughs.

Strict security measures established to ensure the safety of more than 51,000 runners expected to participate in this year’s marathon – as well as volunteers and spectators who annually cheer on the runners from the sidelines – call for a series of “don’ts” at the annual New York City race. Officials released what is described as a partial, preliminary list of items banned at the 2018 Marathon and said they expect to expand the list before the November 4 race. A list of items that remain banned by the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies along the route includes all backpacks, handbags, purses and tote bags, strollers, skateboards, bicycles, water backpacks (CamelBaks), containers larger than one liter, vests with pockets, bulky costumes, face masks and markings that conceal the face and any bulky, non-formfitting outfits extending “beyond the perimeter of the body.” In other words, if you were planning to join the race or the spectators dressed as a gorilla, you might as well stay at home. Police said the rules would apply to the runners, as well as volunteers and spectators who might decide to show up wearing their Halloween costumes.

“We are prepared to deal with anyone who arrives wearing a costume they wore to a Halloween party or other celebration on October 31,” police officials said. “It is highly likely that someone will show up directly from a costume party to watch the runners,” a police source said. “Here’s a suggestion to those people. Go home, change clothes and take a while to get over the celebration before you show up.”

Children under 12 are not permitted along the route unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Again, strollers are banned from the route, so parents must carry infants and toddlers. Youths 16 years of age and younger must have a note signed by their parent or guardian to gain access to the spectator route. The notes will be checked and verified by a team of five station support volunteers from New York Road Runners, police said.

Perhaps the most significant requirement is 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 must pre-register to receive personalized credentials from New York Road Runners.

A team of the new station support volunteers will be at each watering station working with local captains to help things run smoothly. The team members will deal with walk-ups, last-minute volunteers who did not register – who in most cases will be turned away. The team will check everyone, in and out of the stations and spectator areas and will hand out credentials to approved volunteers. Remember, volunteers will be turned away on the day of the race if they did not register and receive personalized credentials from the New York Road Runners Club.

Law enforcement sources said additional security measures would be 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 Queensboro Bridge) and at other locations near bridges and tunnels. “I believe it’s safe to say that the Finish Line will be locked up and secured in advance of the race to maintain the safety of runners, spectators and others working at the site,” a top-ranking NYPD official said. “We plan to provide a safe, secure environment where everyone can enjoy the race and cheer on the runners.” Sources said city cops and members of the Joint Terrorist Task Force would seal manhole covers, mailboxes and wastebaskets along the route in the days preceding the race. “It’s really nothing new to these folks,” a law enforcement source said. “They go in, take care of business and leave the area without fanfare on a regular basis.”

The 2018 New York City Marathon calls for more than 51,000 medals and T-shirts, 2,500 blankets, 730 tubes of K-Y Jelly, 35,500 Mylar blankets, 1,600 stretchers, 45 medical units, 1 major field hospital, more than 10,000 volunteers, 1,550 marshals, 4,000 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, 2.5 tons of bagels, almost 199,000 bottles of water, 337 banners, 3,193 pounds of trail mix, 50,500 Milky Way bars, hundreds of pounds of fruit and more than 51,000 pairs of sneakers.

In addition to uniformed police officers, there will also be NYPD plainclothes officers and NYPD K-9s mingling in with the crowd to detect any suspicious activity, police officials said. NYPD counterterrorism officers will also be deployed along the route, along with aviation patrols overhead.

The marathon runs 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 34 years by the Dutch Kills Civic Association of Long Island City. Walsh, a former president of the civic group, said he and his volunteers would offer fresh fruit, bottled water and other beverages to runners as they pass through the halfway mark in the most prestigious marathon in the world. The civic group will also work with the station support team and local law enforcement officials to comply with any new security measures, according to Walsh. “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.”

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 for members of the NYPD who are running in the 2018 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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