It was a beautiful, cool April morning for nearly 25,000 runners at the 2013 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, just as organizers hoped it would be.
“We had a fairly seamless operation considering the many moving parts and people,” said Leon Gillum, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum security director.
“It was exactly what we hoped it would be. We hoped it would be beautiful weather. We hoped it would be a good, safe race and a way for all these runners to come together and run, not only for themselves, but to remember and honor the 168 people killed in the Murrah bombing and those people touched by the Boston tragedy.”
As for the Oklahoma City police officers working at the marathon, it was nothing but the usual for them, police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.
Security plan evolved
For its 13th annual marathon, Gillum said he has seen the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon evolve from a few hundred runners to nearly 25,000 runners this year.
“Our security plan not only evolved because of the numbers but because we driven by current events happening in Boston,” Gillum said.
Marathon organizers immediately met with Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty after the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15 and developed a security “overlay” plan — to provide additional security should an incident happen — in adjunct to the current security plan, Gillum said.
“We built on the basic building blocks we have had for 10 years which is what we tell all the citizens, ‘See something? Say something.' This year, we had the influx of trained law enforcement personnel present there for someone to see something, they can say something to a trained law enforcement officer and they (the officer) can take action,” he said.
Agencies from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol; Oklahoma City, Nichols Hills and The Village police; and the Oklahoma and Cleveland County sheriff's offices all sent uniformed officers to patrol the entire 26.2-mile route, prominently at relay and medical stops.
Also prominent were the bomb-detecting dogs seen around the route.
Runners helped out
Also helping security were the majority of runners and spectators who left their backpacks or large bags at home at the request of marathon organizers.
“I had no negative comments (from the runners) about the security,” Gillum said.
“The thing that was repeated most often was that they noticed it immediately, the apparent security there, and they were reassured that people were there and it took the fears out of their minds about any incident so they could concentrate on their race.”