Runners and spectators definitely noticed the increased security presence during the 36th annual Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on Sunday, but said they felt safe at the event.
CLEVELAND - Security for the Cleveland Marathon will be tight as tens of thousands of runners and spectators are expected to participate in this weekend's event, according to organizers.
"We've been working with Cleveland Police Department, the sheriff's department, the FBI and Homeland Security," said Jack Staph, the marathon's race director.
Security personnel, including K9 units, will be examining the race route ahead of and during Sunday's event. They will also be monitoring trash bins.
"We encouraging people not to bring large bags down to the finish line," said Staph.
The 36th annual event, which consists of a 5K, 10K, a half and full marathon, is expected to draw 22,000 runners. It comes on the heels of a tragic ending to last month's Boston Marathon when bombs exploded at the finish line, injuring more than 100 people and killing three spectators.
"I have no concerns whatsoever," said Neil Harsany, who traveled from Orlando to run the Cleveland race.
Other runners, including former Cleveland Police Chief Bill Denihan, weren't concerned either.
"I'm very comfortable to run myself in it, and I think that says something about the faith and confidence in the security that they will have," said Denihan, who also served as the city's safety and service director. Denihan is running Saturday's 5K.
"If anything, I feel safer at this point than I did before," said Grace Heffernan, who's about to complete her second half marathon.
FBI special agent Michael Paul said there were many lessons learned from the Boston bombings about preparedness for large events, and his team will be applying those lessons to Cleveland's race.
"The real lessons from Boston are about being prepared if something does go wrong," Paul said. "We can handle that quickly and efficiently."
Meanwhile, runners like Lauren LeBlanc of Boston are solely focused on the finish line.
"I'm very excited, it's great weather, I'm happy to be with my friend," said LeBlanc.
The 5K and kids' run take place Saturday morning. The half and full marathon start at 7 a.m. Sunday. The 10K begins at 7:30 a.m. All events start and end at First Energy Stadium.
NewsChannel5 will be streaming from the finish line on newsnet5.com.
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This weekend's Cleveland Marathon is expected to draw more runners than ever before and bring in more than $18 million for the city's economic development, according to the event's organizers.