In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, area law enforcement and first responders are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of runners and spectators for Sunday’s Army Marathon.
The inaugural event comes just six days after two homemade bombs killed three and injured hundreds in Boston. Police officials said they will be scouring the course with bomb-sniffing dogs, focusing on the start and finish lines, where spectators and runners will be more densely gathered.
So far the event has registered about 1,000 runners, with 700 signed up to run the entire 26.2-mile course that stretches from Killeen to Temple.
“We feel that we are as well prepared as we can be,” event organizer Ed Bandas said. “We’re ready and we’ll have personnel in place for anything.”
Security will be somewhat decentralized because the course travels through six separate jurisdictions. To get everyone on the same page, representatives from law enforcement agencies, fire departments, the event itself and Scott & White met Thursday.
Chad Berg, emergency management coordinator for the Killeen Fire Department, will head up any emergency response in the case of a major event. Berg said the KFD plans and trains regularly for the possibility of large emergency events.
Law enforcement from Killeen, the Bell County Sheriff’s Office and Temple said they have bomb-sniffing dogs along the course.
The only concern brought up during Thursday’s brief regarded Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham, a Temple resident whose arrest there on a weapons charge has drawn national attention.
Cpl. Christopher Wilcox with Temple Police Department said the he didn’t expect anything beyond Grisham making “a spectacle of himself.” The gun rights advocate recently released a video of his arrest that has garnered more than 1.8 million views on YouTube.
“I don’t see it causing a problem for the marathon, and I think the people that are showing support for Mr. Grisham support the marathon,” Wilcox said.
If all goes well, the only things nonspectators should encounter are minor traffic problems.
The race begins at 6:30 a.m. in front of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on W.S. Young Drive. The road will be closed during that time, but likely reopened 20 minutes after the race starts when all runners will be gone from that portion of the course.
The Belton Lake Dam will be closed for the entire race, causing what will likely be the biggest traffic headache of the race. Spectators will not be allowed to watch the race there, either.
Registration for the marathon will continue through Saturday. For more information about the race, including the route and registration for runners, go to www.thearmymarathon.com.