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Boston Marathon bombings cast shadow on LI Marathon, drive runners

A runner in the Long Island Marathon wears

A runner in the Long Island Marathon wears a T-shirt in support of victims of the bombings and the Boston Marathon. (May 5, 2013) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Strengthened resolve accompanied heightened security at Sunday's Long Island Marathon, with runners and spectators determined to push on in memory of the victims of last month's bombings in Boston.

Warren Steinert, 69, of Wading River, wore a bright blue sign stating "Long Island Runs for Boston" on his back as he watched runners trickle through the finish line at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. Steinert said the bombings in Boston on April 15 didn't scare him -- they angered him.

And the increased police presence is "something we have to live with for the rest of our lives," he said.

Thousands of runners participated in the marathon, half-marathon and 10k race events, the first on Long Island since two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 260.

Police stood guard on bridges and checked bags along the race route. Helicopters buzzed overhead. Garbage cans had been removed from the area as a precaution. Officials had said police would employ high-tech surveillance, including using portable radiation detectors as well as more conventional methods like dog patrols to sniff out explosives.

Nassau police said the race concluded without incident.

Before the start of the race, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano led a 26-second moment of silence for Boston's victims -- one second for every mile of the marathon.

Runners wrote their thoughts and tributes on a 10-foot white wall that was to be delivered to the Boston Athletic Association.

Alejandra Linares, 33, of Long Beach, said the bombings did not deter her from running.

"Everyone kept saying, 'You're not afraid?' " she said. "Not really. You can't change your life because things like that happen. That's what they want -- us to be scared. You can't live that way or they win."

She and her cousin Richard Linares, 48, ran the 10k in honor of Richard's son, Ricardo, 27, who suffered traumatic brain injury after a March car crash and was recovering in a Manhattan hospital.

Also at the event were Roberto and Susana Bouza, of Deer Park, who had two daughters running in the race.

The couple held a sign that read, "Run if you can, walk if you must, but finish for Boston."

At the finish line, one of their daughters, Susie Rogers Kalimnios, of Montauk, remembered the somber moment when she learned of the bombings. "As a runner I was heartbroken. . . . That could have been me or my friends or my family," she said.

Peter Hawkins, 48, of Malverne, was this year's only wheelchair racer. He competed at the Boston Marathon five years ago, but wasn't able to register for it this year before the wheelchair slots were filled. He said he wished he could have been there in the aftermath to support fellow racers.

Next year, Hawkins said, he intends to race in Boston again. "We just can't let other people change the way we live our lives," he said.

The security precautions Sunday meant some inconveniences for attendees.

After finishing the 10k event, some runners learned they were not permitted to re-enter the spectator area at the finish line because they had retrieved their checked bags. Police eventually allowed people to enter the area with bags, but asked them to open their jackets, empty their pockets and open up their bags. No backpacks were permitted.

Erik Haughn, 24, of Port Jefferson Station, was among those subjected to bag checks along the route. He was watching runners near Mile Three, when a police officer asked, "Excuse me, do you mind if I check your bag?"

His black drawstring sack contained only a post-race snack for a friend.With Emily Ngo

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