Baltimore Marathon organizers plan to ramp up security again in 2014

BALTIMORE - It was October 2013.

At that time, runners geared up, raced 26.2 miles, and proudly flew across the finish line. That part of the race remained the same. It's what runners didn't see that was the biggest change.

"Obviously, with a big event like this, you don't want to be the guy that was caught unprepared," said Lee Corrigan, event director with the Baltimore Marathon. "Not unlike setting up your medical support for your event, you always want to make sure you've done everything you can to make sure the event is as safe as possible for your runners and your fans."

Corrigan says their team handles every aspect of the race; from dreaming it up, to advertising and planning, to the finish line. But he says one of the biggest focuses is security.

"We'll check it. We'll double check it with police to make sure it's set up to their specifications in terms of crowd control, and of course how the runners are going to flow back and forth as well," he said of the course.

In 2013, race organizers teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to ramp up safety measures to new levels. The Baltimore Police Department set up a command center to keep an eye on just about everything near the course.

But increased security doesn't come cheap; Corrigan says it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. A cost, he says, that event organizers shared with the city.

"I think there's a very fine line of when the extra security infringes on the fun of the event," Corrigan said. "And I thought the Baltimore Police Department and the federal agencies that we were working with really did a nice job not crossing that line."

He says the use of clear, plastic bags was probably the biggest change that took effect in marathons across the country.

Now, the group is gearing up for Baltimore's 2014 Running Festival. They're expecting record breaking numbers in October.

"I think they kind of saw their participation as a way of spitting in the eye of the bad guys. And showing the world, you weren't going to keep us away and you weren't going to keep us down, so to speak," he said.

The group plans to bring back much of the same security measures, plus some added tweaks. The Baltimore Marathon and Running Festival kicks off on Oct. 18.

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