Race organizers think about security in wake of Boston Marathon bombings

by: Frank Field Updated:

SEATTLE - Seattle-area race directors were shocked and saddened by the terror attacks in Boston and immediately began conferring with each other about what could be done to protect runners in local events.

 Alan Bonney is a high school track coach and the founder of the Seattle St. Patrick’s Day Dash, which has about 15,000 runners.  He has put on hundreds of other races as well.  He says even a highly choreographed race can't prevent a terror attack.

 "Frankly, I don't think there's anything different that can be done,” he told KIRO 7. ”If anything, I could see maybe in the finish area, making that a little bit more secure."

 Brian Oster, owner of Pro-Motion Events, agrees.  He organizes dozens of races every year and says the nature of the sport makes runners and spectators vulnerable.

 "You can't protect against everything. You can't protect against a lunatic, or acts of terrorism completely. You do the best you can,” he said.

 Seattle's biggest events are the summer Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and the Seattle Marathon in the fall. Each has smaller races that combined have thousands of runners hitting the streets.  Both have large expos where runners gather in large crowds. And both have hundreds of people gathered at starting and finishing areas that could be vulnerable to attacks. Bonney doesn't think violence can be prevented if someone wants to target them.

“You can plan. You can hope,” he said. “Bottom line is if somebody's going to get loose, they're going to get loose and they're going to do something like this."

 Lori McConnell is the owner of  West Seattle Runner, a shop for running shoes, apparel and equipment.  She has trained dozens of customers for local events and contributed to race organizing. She says most race directors think of safety in terms of the medical needs of runners.

She said race directors wonder “if your runners are going to be safe, if the first aid tent is stocked, those kinds of things, but I don't think a race director would have ever fathomed this."

 The director of the Seattle Marathon told KIRO 7 that she would confer with local law enforcement to let them offer ideas on what, if any, changes to make to increase security. But there is no hint that that race, nor any other will be canceled.

 The next large event in the region is the Eugene Marathon in Eugene, Oregon the weekend of April 26.  Race directors there issued a statement saying that the event will take place as scheduled and that organizers would cooperate with local officials to ensure the safety of participants and spectators.