Members of the racing community are showing stiff resolve, saying they will not let Monday’s terrorist attack deter them from participating in Sunday’s New York City Marathon. The NYPD has promised increased security measures meant to further ensure the safety of runners and spectators alike.
Peter Ciaccia, the marathon’s race director, offered his sympathy Thursday to those affected by the attack that killed eight people on Manhattan’s West Side before adding that “this Sunday is going to be the greatest Sunday in the city.”
“We’re here to celebrate what this city is about, [with] over 50,000 runners, over a million spectators [expected],” he said. “The center of humanity is right here in NYC this weekend.”
Though racers pull out in the final days every year, a spokesman for the New York Road Runners — the organization that helps put on the marathon — said there hasn’t been a spike in dropouts since Monday’s attack. Safety, he said, has always been the primary priority — something, no doubt, that came more to the forefront after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
“I personally have had such overwhelmingly positive experiences with all the logistics at these New York Road Runners races that I know that security is a top priority,” said Brendan Martin, a professional runner from Smithtown who will be running his second NYC Marathon. “Honestly, it doesn’t enter my mind because I know that they’re taking care of business. [The terrorist attack] is something I’ve certainly been thinking about a lot and it’s beyond upsetting, but I haven’t been worried about my own safety.”
Wednesday brought assurances from Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the NYPD that security will be very tight Sunday. In a news conference at police headquarters, Chief of Department Carlos Gomez told reporters that the NYPD will be ramping up its presence and implementing more sand and blocking trucks, ostensibly to thwart an attack similar to Monday’s, when Sayfullo Saipov, formerly of Uzbekistan, rammed a Home Depot truck into a downtown bike path — killing the eight and injuring 11 in the deadliest terrorist attack in New York since 9/11.
Gomez told reporters that there will be helicopters patrolling the route, K-9 units, counterterrorism units and an uptick in heavy weapons teams, according to CBS.
The event is expected to attract 51,000 runners and more than 2 million spectators.
Hours after the attack Monday, the NYRR said they were “monitoring the situation closely” with the help of city, state and federal agencies, and the NYPD especially. “Safety and security. . . [are] our top priority,’’ the NYRR said. “Together with our agency partners, we have extensive safety and security measures in place, both visible and behind the scenes.”