After Boston Marathon bombings, NYPD monitors Manhattan races

Left, the NYPD increased its presence at the Left, the NYPD increased its presence at the annual "Run for the Parks", on high alert for suspicious packages like one, right, that was eventually determined to not be an explosive device. (April 21, 2013) Photo Credit: Patrick McCarthy; NYPD

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New York City was on high alert Sunday at its first race events since the twin blasts at the Boston Marathon, with the NYPD deploying bomb squad and canine team members, performing radiation sweeps of the routes and using a counterterrorism vehicle that captures 360-degree images.

Police officers stopped a man on a bicycle at the City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks in Manhattan's Central Park and found in his backpack a plastic device wired to a digital clock. It turned out to be harmless, but the incident demonstrated authorities' heightened vigilance, police said.

Runners pounded the pavement in solidarity with Boston -- 12 years after 9/11 when New Yorkers experienced their own mass-casualty terrorist event.

Most at the Central Park 4-miler wore T-shirts and bibs that read "I run for . . . Boston," and organizers raised funds for the bombing victims.

At the inaugural 9/11 Memorial 5k Run/Walk downtown, most participants crossed the finish line with their hands over their hearts -- as suggested by organizers to pay tribute to Boston.

The attack that killed three people and injured 176 inspired many Sunday in New York.

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"It made me more determined to run," said Johnna Walker Green of Brooklyn at the Run for the Parks.

Police Sunday did not identify the man with the wired device by name, but said he was a New Zealand national and a New York University student.

He was released shortly after the bomb squad verified he was not carrying an explosive, police said. The man said the device was for timing kayak races, police said.

At both race events, clear bags were used as a security precaution. In Central Park, organizers asked the public to carry their belongings in clear bags, and at the 9/11 event on the West side and downtown, trash cans were removed and volunteers collected runners' discarded goods in clear bags.

Police officers, including some who wore "NYPD Counter Terrorism" uniforms, were a visible presence along the race routes.

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"I saw all the patrols, and I feel pretty darn good, thankful that they're here," Milly Nunez, 28, of Freeport said at the 9/11 event.

Her friend Karen Arevalo, 33, also of Freeport, said she was fearful when she first learned about the Boston bombings, but eventually vowed to "run harder and faster."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Sunday sought to reassure the public that the city's counterterrorism tools, including an extensive camera network, were being used to thwart any possible attacks.

"We fully mobilized our counterterrorism resources immediately after the Boston bombing, and we've adjusted those measures as we learned more about that attack," he said in his weekly radio address on WINS / 1010.

And at the 9/11 race, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued a solemn dedication to Boston.

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"Let us dedicate this race today to our brothers and sisters in Massachusetts and Boston . . . to the victims, to their families to the first responders," he said, adding, "We know what you are feeling, the pain . . . We know the frustration."

Shaun Pescador, 36, of San Jose, Calif., said she considered that terrorists might "add salt to the wound" by targeting New York, but concluded, "I'm not just going to stop living my life."

In the end, the 9/11 event commemorated two of America's worst tragedies.

Casey Hargrave, 18, of Hunterdon, N.J., said her father, T.J. Hargrave, a broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, died on Sept. 11, 2001, when he was 38. "The whole run was for my dad, but the heart" gesture, she said, was "for Boston."

Jay Guillermo, 49, of Summit, N.J., said Friday's arrest of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, allayed some but not all of his tensions.

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"With all the police presence, I feel at peace to run," he said, "I still have to keep my eyes open in case. We cannot be complacent, even though there is presence of police, we have to keep a watchful eye."

With Anthony M. DeStefano

and Eli M. Rosenberg

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