Derby marathon security changes result of Boston bombings - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Derby marathon security changes result of Boston bombings

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Thousands of runners participating in this weekend's Kentucky Derby Festival marathon and mini-marathon will be greeted by an increased police presence, security changes and new restrictions on certain items -- all the direct result of the bombings at the Boston marathon.

More than 18,000 runners pounded the pavement during last year's Kentucky Derby Festival races. But for the first time ever, police K-9 units will be used to conduct a sweep before the race.

"We've done it with a number of our events - just for different reasons. This will be new to this event," said Matt Gibson, KDF vice president of events. When asked directly if the canine sweep was a direct result of the bombings in Boston, he replied: "I would have to say so."

The bombings have even altered the aesthetics of the races. Blue and yellow balloons will be placed at finish line to honor the Boston victims. Runners will also be given blue and yellow ribbons to honor the victims. A moment of silence will precede the race. 

To improve safety, runners will be prohibited from 1) pushing strollers 2) wearing backpacks** and 3) non-registered runners will be pulled from the race course (** although it should be noted that fuel packs and camel packs will be allowed). A gear check will be in place for personal items. Runners will be asked to place any personal items checked into a clear plastic bag.

"The start and the finish are both swept by canine units, including the equipment truck to hopefully ensure safety," said KDF President Mike Berry.

The security changes won't deter runners Deana Carl and Alisha Rhoten. 

"I think if anything else I think it has inspired us more to even do the minis and the races and stuff. Just to show that we are not going to let it get to us. We are going to continue doing what we are doing," Rhoten said.

Deana Carl, who has previously run the mini marathon, she said: "As far as running the marathon, getting those runners prepared and motivated. I think the security is great. It's an awesome event and I wouldn't not be here for that."

Derby Festival officials admit the bombings have altered the running industry.

"Because it really is a game changer there is no questions," Gibson said.

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