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In Boston and on LI, marathoners vow to race

Runners come under the banner at the start

Runners come under the banner at the start of the 2012 Long Island Marathon, from Charles Lindbergh Boulevard back to Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. (May 6, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

What didn't change, after the carnage at the Boston Marathon, are the people who run such races. And organizers say the race will go on in 2014.

Thomas Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, said in a statement Tuesday that organizers are "committed to continuing that tradition" with the 118th Boston Marathon next year, calling the race a "deeply held tradition -- an integral part of the fabric and history of our community."

The Boston Marathon, first run in 1897, is the centerpiece of Patriots Day, a Massachusetts civic holiday that commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution.

"I think the running community is resilient," said Sal Nastasi, 33, a Massapequa Park musician whose 2:35:26 finish on Monday made him the fastest Long Island entrant in the Boston race.

"Runners are fighters. I don't think anyone is going to take that away," Nastasi said Tuesday. "The scary thing is whether marathons and viewing marathons is going to be changed now."

On Sunday, the second of the world's five big-city marathons is expected to go off as planned in London. Organizers say they expect no decline in the number of runners (more than 36,000) or spectators (roughly 1 million) along the 26-mile, 385-yard course. Officials said 30 seconds of silence will be observed before each start and runners will be encouraged to wear a black ribbon.

In 2 1/2 weeks, the annual Long Island Marathon and its two-day "festival of races" -- including a half-marathon, 10k, 5k and 1-mile -- are expected to draw more than 7,000 runners and thousands of spectators.

"Not one runner will drop out of the Long Island Marathon [events]," predicted Mike Polansky, president of the Greater Long Island Running Club. "And I think many people, who are on the fence about doing it or not doing it, are now going to run, to say, 'I'm not letting those ---- scare me off. We're going to do our thing, no matter what.' "

Still, Nassau County is convening a major meeting of public safety and police officials Wednesday. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said that despite heightened security, the LI race must go on.

"The only way to fight terrorism is to continue living here in the United States of America free, continuing to go about your daily lives, continue to recreate," Mangano said. "That's how you really defeat terrorism and we're going to go ahead with our marathon with the security protocols that we are modifying."

And Terry Bisogno, the veteran of 44 marathons who works as public address announcer for countless races in the area, including the Long Island Marathon, acknowledged that Boston "is going to hasten the need for stepped-up security. There are going to be repercussions from this event, at any marathon."

The fact that a suburban race such as Long Island's has far lower visibility than Boston, London, New York, Chicago or Berlin -- the big-city marathons that offer lucrative prizes to top professionals and include massive fields of amateur runners -- makes it a less likely target for terrorism.

"We'd like to think that," Polansky said. Nastasi, who finished more than an hour and a half before the bombs detonated and had backtracked 2 miles along the course to meet his wife and friends still running, worried that increased security could rob marathons of "what makes a great marathon, the people who come out in droves to watch."

"From the first mile, there are people lining the streets, drinking beer on lawns, college kids leaving their dorms and standing right there," he said. "I just hope that doesn't change."

With Tom Rock and AP

New York Sports