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Columbus Marathon Organizers Implement New Security Measures
COLUMBUS (Lu Ann Stoia/Ken Hines) -- Organizers are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of runners and spectators during this year's Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon.
More than 18,000 runners and walkers will compete in the 34th annual event, which kicked off Friday with the Health and Fitness Expo.
New this year, only runners with displayed bib numbers will be allowed on the course, ending the practice of family members or friends hopping into the race to support or encourage a participant.
The change is just one of several new safety measures intended to maintain the safety of those in attendance.
Race Director Darris Blackford said emergency management and Homeland Security officers will conduct surveillance during the event, and police will have towers and cameras installed by the City of Columbus from which to look for suspicious people.
Columbus police plan to place additional uniformed officers at Sunday's marathon, and the event's organizers are hiring 50 private security officers to help search bags.
This year, organizers will provide clear plastic bags to runners to hold any post-race gear they want to store. Those bags will be checked with the runners number for later pick up.
Runner Marianne Troutman of New Albany believes race officials have done all they can to keep participants safe in the wake of the deadly bombing at April's Boston Marathon.
I dont have any fears as far as the safety aspects," Troutman said. "I think they have taken all the precautions they possibly can.
Troutman was in Boston to see her daughter, Maria, run the 2012 Marathon. The two will run in Columbus for the sixth time on Sunday.