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50,000 ready to run the annual TCS New York City Marathon

NYPD officers stood guard as runners began a

NYPD officers stood guard as runners began a 5K race near the United Nations in Manhattan on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. The event was a prelude to Sunday's annual marathon. Credit: John Roca

More than 50,000 runners will be following a 26.2-mile thin blue line through the boroughs on Sunday as some vie for their personal best while others hope to just finish the 47th annual TCS New York City Marathon.

Two million spectators are expected to line the route of the world’s largest marathon, which starts on Staten Island at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and runs mostly north through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx before turning west toward Manhattan and then south to the finish line in Central Park.

No one wants any lost marathoners; hence the blue line. Though the term thin blue line refers to law enforcement, in this case the color was chosen because it is not one used by the city Department of Transportation for street and traffic markings, explained Lauren Doll, a spokeswoman for New York Road Runners, which organizes the race.

With a 50 percent chance of rain forecast for race time, some marathoners might have to turn plastic bags into impromptu raincoats. Puddles and slippery roads could also pose hazards.

Temperatures should be unseasonably warm, in the mid-60s, according to the National Weather Service.

After Tuesday’s deadly terror attack on a bike path along the Hudson River in lower Manhattan, city officials promised to increase security to unprecedented levels, including deploying the most blocker vehicles ever.

Competitors seem determined to set aside any fears and forge ahead — but vow not to forget the eight people slain.

“I was heartbroken when I saw the images on TV of the mangled bikes,” said Mary Lenzi, 57, of Hauppauge, who will be running her sixth city marathon.

“It sounds cliched, but that would be a win for the wrong side if we turned around and changed our lifestyle because there are people out there who do ridiculously awful things,” said Lenzi, who teaches at South Woods Middle School in Syosset.

The New York Road Runners said it sees no evidence that fears of another attack are prompting participants to pull out.

“We are seeing the same patterns as past years in regard to last-minute cancellations in the final few days,” Doll said.

The organization said it was working with the agencies responsible for keeping the city safe, and constantly reviewing plans to determine whether changes are needed.

“We have extensive safety and security measures in place, both visible and behind the scenes,” Doll said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday said the New York State Police and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are doubling the number of officers assigned to posts around the city, while the New York National Guard will triple its forces, including stationing soldiers along the route. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority also will have additional officers on hand.

“But I want to stress this is just a precautionary measure. We have no information that points to any issues,” Cuomo said.

NYPD officials say the department will add more sand trucks and block vehicles along the course, as well as deploy additional countersniper teams, heavy weapons teams, aviation units scanning rooftops, and plainclothes officers mixed in with the cheering crowds.

The professional wheelchair division is scheduled to kick off the marathon at 8:30 a.m. on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, followed by handcycle and other disabled athletes. Professional women runners will set out at 9:20 a.m.

Shalane Flanagan, 36, a four-time Olympian who in 2010 clocked the highest finish by an American woman in 20 years, hopes to beat 35-year-old Mary Keitany of Kenya, the winner of the past three marathons.

The first of four waves and the professional men’s division are to start at 9:50 a.m., organizers said.

Meb Keflezighi, 42, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist who in 2009 became the only American to win the marathon in 34 years, is retiring after this race but first will go head to head against last year’s surprise champion, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, 20, of Eritrea.

The field includes 21 Olympians, 18 Paralympians, 12 past New York City champions, and all four of last year’s winners — runners and wheelchair athletes.

Motorists traveling to New York City for the event have been urged to take mass transit to avoid traffic snarls.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has promised the subway and buses “will get you to the event from all parts of the city.”

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will be closed Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., the MTA said. And starting Saturday at 11 p.m., the upper level will be shut in both directions, the agency said.

With AP

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