Police poised to protect runners at Columbus Marathon


About 18,000 athletes will pour into the streets of downtown Columbus Sunday for the 38th annual Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon.

The event is the largest marathon in the state of Ohio, and police say it's also one of the most challenging in terms of providing protection and safety.

"The marathon is much different...So we're providing security over a large route," said Columbus Police Deputy Chief Mike Woods. "Then we also have one area, which is our start and our finish line, where the runners unite with their families and a lot of people amass together, and that's what we really need to keep an eye on."

The safety focus on the finish comes after a devastating day in April of 2013 when two homemade bombs detonated 12 seconds apart near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Four years later, the 38th running of the Columbus Marathon comes exactly two weeks after 58 people were murdered by a heavily armed man perched on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel.

"Vegas is another thing that makes us think what if? What do we do if this happens? What do we do if that happens?," said Woods. "So, every time there is an attack, Dallas, Vegas, Columbus...each one of those events that have happened, we take a look at it. We look at what we've done. We look at what other cities have done, and then reassess how we are going to provide security for that event. Vegas is something that has us all very concerned."

The Columbus Division of Police says runners will see a heavy visible police presence that will include officers on horseback, bicycles, and motorcycles.

Police will deploy city plows and salt trucks to block intersections and discourage people from driving onto the course, or into the crowd.

Law enforcement will also post spotters on rooftops to watch the crowd as well as keep an eye on what's happening above the spectators.

Marathon runner Kim Savon told 10TV runners love the Columbus Marathon because the crowds bring tremendous energy. Savon says she's always felt safe on the course.

"Certainly we're aware of that, but at the same time, I think runners are just real optimistic anyway, and it is secure. Columbus is a great, safe city," said Savon.

Columbus police emphasize there is no specific threat against the marathon, and says the Division is taking an abundance of caution to keep the event safe for everyone.

Police say as always, the mantra "See Something, Say Something" remains in place for anyone who sees something that doesn't look right.