April 17, 2013

‪Impact of bombings on security for Maine race unclear‬

‪Those involved with Beach to Beacon say safety has been a concern since the start in 1998 but it’s not ‘fail-safe.’‬

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

One aspect of road running that Kristin Barry likes most is its accessibility.

click image to enlarge

In this Aug. 4, 2012 file photo, runners compete in the Beach to Beacon 10K road race. Dave Weatherbie, president of the Beach to Beacon race, said it’s too early to talk about any extra security measures that might be added to the 2013 event following the Boston Marathon bombings.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

In this Aug. 4, 2012 file photo, runners compete in the Beach to Beacon 10K road race. Dave Weatherbie, president of the Beach to Beacon race, said it’s too early to talk about any extra security measures that might be added to the 2013 event following the Boston Marathon bombings.

Carl D. Walsh / Staff Photographer

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit our special section covering the Boston bombings.

In some races, the best runners in the world line up with weekend joggers and all take the same path toward the finish line. Spectators don’t need tickets to sidle up close to the action.

“Road racing always felt, to me, a little bit different than other pro sports,” said Barry, a two-time winner of the Maine women’s division of the popular TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race. “I wonder if that, in some way, will change.”

The two bomb blasts near the finish line of Monday’s 117th running of the Boston Marathon sent reverberations throughout the world, particularly in the running community.

Barry, a mother of two who lives in Scarborough, spent much of Monday with her father, racing to six spots along the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton, Mass., to downtown Boston to support fellow members of her Dirigo Running Club.

That freedom to zip around the course and communicate with the racers is part of the event’s appeal, Barry said, but such easy access leaves low barriers for someone bent on harm.

“I wonder if the finish line will have to be gated in some way, or if you’ll have to have special pass to watch,” Barry said. “I’m just incredibly sad. It’s hard to believe this would happen in a road race.”

The race director of the Boston Marathon – Dave McGillivray – holds the same position with the Beach to Beacon. His attention to detail is legendary, with contingency plans for all manner of emergencies in every race he directs.

“I can’t stop thinking about all of the ‘hypothetical’ table-top exercises we have done with this race year after year with our public safety partners, and then to have this happen,” McGillivray said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “So, so surreal. We all feel so sorry for the innocent victims and their families.”

Dave Weatherbie, president of the Beach to Beacon race, said it’s too early to talk about any security measures that might be added to the event in Cape Elizabeth, set for Aug. 3 this year.

“The pain of what occurred in Boston is both fresh and deep,” Weatherbie said in a prepared statement. “For that reason, and out of respect for what took place there, it is too soon to discuss with any specificity the impact of that tragedy on the TD Beach to Beacon 10K."

Michael McGovern, town manager in Cape Elizabeth, said security has been a concern since Joan Benoit Samuelson started the race in 1998.

“Clearly, once things settle down in Boston, Dave McGillivray and his team will be working, as they always have, with our chief (of police, Neil Williams) to evaluate what additional steps might be needed,” McGovern said.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington prompted increased security for Maine’s largest road race, including personnel stationed in the Portland Head Light tower and in inflatable motor boats just off Fort Williams Park.

South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins, whose department dedicates many officers to provide assistance on race day, said he doesn’t expect major changes in security, although it may feel different.

“In reality, events like (Beach to Beacon) have had very significant safety plans in place,” he said.

“Having said that, a lot of people who come as spectators ... it’s easy to get in and leave; there’s no place you go and get screened.

“The lesson here is, it’s not fail-safe,” he said, “and that’s why people have to keep their eyes open and speak up.”

-- Staff Writer David Hench contributed to this report.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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