The Miles Between – A Runner’s Perspective on Security and Marathons

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Two years ago, the bombing at the Boston Marathon Finish Line shocked everyone. Almost three weeks later, my son ran in the Long Branch Half Marathon. This race is run concurrently with the New Jersey Marathon. The start line for both races is in Oceanport and the finish line for both races is on the boardwalk in Long Branch. Obviously, there was an increase in security measures. No bags at the start or finish lines. All athletes had to place items into clear plastic bags. No one without a race number could be in the “secure” start area. These measures meant that I had to rely on my friends running the race to watch my 14-year-old son before the start as I was not allowed to be with him as in previous years.marathon

It’s now two years later and this weekend is the Long Branch Half Marathon and New Jersey Marathon. My son doesn’t run the race anymore, but I am running the Half Marathon this year and the security protocols have not changed since 2013. 

Will these measures make a difference?  Like me, many racers live locally to this race. I run this race with several friends.  The course goes past several other friends’ houses. We are running through our own neighborhoods. We have a comfort that comes along with knowing the course; we also have a laziness that comes from that comfort. Security measures are strictly enforced at the start and finish lines, but what about the many miles between the start and finish lines?  

I don’t know whether the race’s security measures will keep us safer. I do know that I need to be responsible for my safety and take my own safety measures for the miles between start and finish.

  • I will run this race with my cell phone so I can be reached or I can call out in an emergency.  
  • I will run this race with money in my pocket in case I need to get somewhere mid-race.  
  • I will run this race without my iPod so I can hear any and all announcements.  
  • I will watch what is going on around me and anticipate what I may need to do.
  • I will have an alternate, predetermined meeting spot identified to regroup with my family.

These races are no longer just a physical test, they are a mental preparedness exercise, too. The world we live in demands that we PREDICT.PLAN.PERFORM.® I am using this mantra as I look ahead toward the race this weekend. Catch you at the finish line!


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