Salt Lake City Marathon security described in chat about Boston attacks
If people stay away from the Salt Lake City Marathon, the terrorists win.
That statement came Tuesday from a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department after race officials met with law enforcement agencies and others in ongoing preparations for Saturday's 10th anniversary run of the 26.2-mile event. There is no "credible threat" of violence, according to authorities.
"When we have an event like yesterday [in Boston], it's important to support the [Salt Lake City] Marathon Saturday," Detective Mike Hamideh said Tuesday. "To stay away from it is to say the terrorists win."
Race organizers said there is no reason to believe the marathon which begins at the University of Utah and travels through Holladay, Murray and South Salt Lake before ending at Liberty Park will not be fun and safe.
"It's going to be an awesome event. It's going to be safe," race director Steve Bingham said. "From what we've been sharing, there is no reason to believe there is a threat."
Nonetheless, area law enforcement officials are on heightened alert for Saturday's race as Boston investigators, along with FBI and ATF agents, continue to sift through the carnage of Monday's Boston Marathon bombings. The tandem explosions near the race's finish line left three dead and at least 170 injured. No one has claimed responsibility.
Saturday's race in Salt Lake City begins at 7 a.m. Organizers say about 7,000 runners have registered. About 800 volunteers will be on hand and roughly 3,000 spectators are expected to line the route, according to organizers.
Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman Dwayne Baird said in a live Salt Lake Tribune Internet chat Tuesday that a marathon poses a unique security challenge because it takes place over a long course. But he also said law enforcement officials are using intelligence-gathering networks to evaluate any potential dangers and at this point there are no "credible threats."
Baird encouraged attendees of the Salt Lake City Marathon to be vigilant and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. The Salt Lake City Police Department has created the email account firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone wanting to pass along tips. Police also can be contacted by calling 801-799-3000 or by dialing 911.
Each year, Salt Lake City Marathon organizers contract with law enforcement agencies for race security. In past years, much of that has been traffic control along the race route. This year is different in the wake of the Boston bombings, Bingham said.
"We're talking about things we normally wouldn't be talking about," Bingham said. "We're looking at what resources are available to respond to various scenarios."
Runner Andy Hortin, who works at Salt Lake Running Co., said he still plans to race Saturday. Hortin also said he doesn't believe the Boston attacks will deter other runners.
Salt Lake City police will provide security for the event, Baird said; 75 percent of the department's staff is scheduled to work Saturday. Other agencies involved include Unified Police Department, University of Utah Police Department, Murray Police Department and the South Salt Lake Police Department. Baird declined to give the exact number of officers who will be on duty Saturday.
Fire and emergency medical personnel also will be on duty, Baird said. He added that, despite the bombings in Boston, officials in Salt Lake City expect a successful event.
Marathon spokesman Carter Livingston said organizers pay to have law enforcement provide security. He did not say how much organizers are spending on that but added this year's bill will be the same as in 2012.
Participants are being encouraged to take TRAX to the starting line. Livingston said people should expect delays as a result of added security. Special TRAX schedules are available at saltlakecitymarathon.com
Ed Eyestone, a cross country coach at Brigham Young University, said he believes the Boston Marathon was targeted for its iconic status, not because it was a race. Eyestone does not expect other marathons to be the target of terrorists. He also said that sensitive areas at marathons usually require credentials to enter.
U. police Chief Scott Folsom pointed out that hundreds of marathons are held safely each year across the country.
"We have to enjoy these events," he said. "I would be worrying more about being hit by a car [than an explosion]."
Police ask the public for marathon vigilance
The Salt Lake City Police Department has created the email account email@example.com for anyone wanting to pass along tips on suspicious activity. Police can be contacted anonymously through text messaging at CRIMES (274637) using the key word "slmarathon." SLCPD also can be contacted by calling 801-799-3000 or by dialing 911.