Runners and spectators notice increased security at Cleveland Marathon, feel safe at event

CLEVELAND - Runners and spectators definitely noticed the increased security presence during the 36th annual Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on Sunday.

"As soon as I turned the corner and I saw the SWAT at the turn before you get to the finish line, it kind of boggles in your mind, remembering what happened (in Boston) and getting a little nervous about it," said Tony Jackman, of Parma.

Jackman ran the half marathon in Cleveland. He finished the Boston Marathon about 45 minutes before two bombs exploded near the finish line.

In response to the terrorist attacks in Boston, there was a sizeable increase in local, state, federal and private security officers along the Cleveland course, especially at the start and finish lines.

FBI agents swept the area, K-9 dogs sniffed around garbage cans, and at least one officer could be seen with binoculars perched atop First Energy Stadium.

At one point, a bag left unattended near the finish line sent officers scurrying, but it turned out to be a false alarm.

"It looks like security looks pretty good to me. I've seen a lot of dogs around. I've seen a lot of police around. Everything looks pretty safe and OK to me," said Bath resident Erik Schmeiser, who watched his wife run the half marathon.

Marcia Hood, of Cleveland, also stood at the finish line and admitted she thought about what happened to innocent spectators in Boston.

"I thought about that initially and stuff, but I'm like spiritually, we're going to be OK," Hood said.

She also took the time to thank some of the officers for being there.

Doris Maslanka, who watched five of her children finish various races at the Cleveland Marathon, thought fans were also more careful about what they brought to the finish line.

"You find less people who are wearing a backpack. There are some, but they're easy to spot," Maslanka said.

Seth Connally, a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, ran the 10K and said security was foremost on his mind.

"I was very nervous today. It went off without a hitch and hopefully it's going to end nicely. It's a beautiful day," Connally said.

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