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This weekend's Cleveland Marathon being run with increased security and a special segment for some Boston runners
The Cleveland event is drawing at least as many runners as last year

Kevin Niedermier
Runners line up for the start of a past Cleveland marathon. This year's event will be run under tightened security following the Boston bombing.
Courtesy of Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon
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In The Region:

The Boston Marathon bombing has not dampened enthusiasm for this weekend’s Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. But the 36th running of the Cleveland event will be different from past years.

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Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

When: Sunday, marathon and half marathon begin at 7 a.m.; 10K at 7:30

Other events on Saturday:  5K at 8 a.m. and Kids’ run at 11 a.m.

More than 20,000 runners have registered for Cleveland’s marathon, which is slightly higher than last year’s participation. Jack Staph, the marathon’s executive director, says the number is encouraging and everything possible is being done to keep everyone safe.

Staph says the first thing runners and spectators will notice this weekend is heightened security all along the marathon route. The Cleveland Police Department has enhanced its security and 12 Cuyahoga County deputies will be working at the race. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security will both be working with the race’s private security team, Staph says.

“It’s for everyone’s security,” Staph says. “It’s for the participants. It’s for the spectators. Just visually speaking, there will be a lot more law-enforcement individuals walking around all through the course. If someone is carrying a bag and it looks suspicious, they will be interviewed.”

Leave the backpacks at home
Backpacks are discouraged near the finish line and unattended bags will be confiscated, Staph says. Runners will be required to place their gear in see-through, plastic bags in the gear-check area.

The Boston Marathon was April 15, coming late in the planning stages for Cleveland’s marathon. Staph says that timing has created a moderate burden for the planners.

“The country and the city have been very generous with their time and their resources,” Staph says. “Some of our private security costs have increased because of the extra time taken, but it’s all worthwhile. Our primary concern has always been the safety of the participants and the spectators.”

More planning for for future races
Staph says the people he has talked to in Boston are still struggling with the emotional toll of the bombing.

“By the end of the summer, I’m sure there will be conferences held for the various race directors and executive directors on the best way to prevent this from happening in the future.

“For years, in the back of my mind, I’ve always worried about something like this, and I think our normal security protocol was at a very high level. I think what happened in Boston just took it to a higher level.”

A symbolic finishing line
But he says there’s no indication the Boston bombing will lower participation in Cleveland and other events.

“I think the runners understand that what runners do is sort of a freedom,” Staph says. “You put on a pair of shoes, pair of shorts and a T-shirt and you can run as far as your conditioning can take you. I think they want to make a metaphoric statement about freedom and that freedom is in their running.”

A few of the Cleveland marathon participants will run only a few miles, Staph says. They are runners from this year’s Boston Marathon who were stopped short of the finish line after the explosions.  For them, coming to Cleveland will be a symbolic completion of that race.  

Related Links & Resources
2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

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