Each year approximately 50,000 runners from around the world descend on New York City for the NYC Marathon. The globe’s largest marathon also draws countless spectators who line the streets excitedly cheering as runners stream by.
Unfortunately, large events such as the NYC Marathon can be targets for terrorist attacks. The Boston Marathon was shocked by a pair of bombings in 2013; an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was attacked in May 2017; and most recently, a terrorist killed 59 and injured 500 more at a Las Vegas country music festival.
In the immediate wake of the Vegas attack on Oct. 1, the New York Police Department (NYPD) increased its security presence, particularly at sporting events, including at Yankee Stadium for the New York Yankees playoff games earlier this month.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill assured NYC residents and tourists to continue to go about their daily lives.
“I want to urge everyone who lives and works here, and everyone who visits New York, to keep coming out and enjoying all that our city—this great city—has to offer,” O’Neill said. “New Yorkers do not make decisions based on fear. As we move further into the fall, and into the holiday season, the NYPD will certainly maintain our vigilance. We never stop trying to achieve, and to improve, our overall mission of fighting crime and keeping people safe—and making people feel safe.”
One of the most iconic offerings of New York City is the largest marathon in the world, spanning all five boroughs. The race, held on the first Sunday each November, will host its 47th edition on Nov. 5.
Barbara Ann Morrissey is running the NYC Marathon for the 25th time. She was there on race day for the 2001 marathon, less than two months following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Running NYC right after 9/11 was scary, but waiting on the bridge before the start, hearing everyone singing made my fears lessen,” she said. “Every [race] since, I have thought about possible danger, but we can’t give up on our freedoms.”
Aja Carter, who is running her second NYC Marathon, is equally as confident in the security measures put in place by the NYPD, New York Road Runners (NYRR) and their federal, state, and city agency partners for race day.
“I am not at all concerned about my safety,” Carter said. “I have full faith in the NYPD to secure the event. Granted, something like Vegas is hard to secure since it was so random, but at the same time I don’t believe in worrying about that. God forbid it happens, but there’s nothing I can do to prevent it. So instead of wasting energy in worrying, I put my faith in God and focus on completing the marathon.”
The attacks at concerts and sporting events in recent years has first-time marathon runner Mary Lucas more aware of security and safety at large events, but like most, she’s confident in the security measures put in place for the race.
“I think what happened in Boston in 2013 made everyone more aware, I know I certainly am, of security and became an even more heightened issue in these big races,” Lucas said. “I have full confidence in the strict security procedures around the NYC Marathon, but there is that little part of me that is nervous and knows anything can happen. I don’t let it scare me off though.”
The NYRR said the safety of runners, staff, volunteers, and spectators is always their primary concern. As with all of their events, there are safety and security measures in place both visibly and behind the scenes. Despite all of the measures in place, it’s still up to the runners, spectators, volunteers, and those involved on race day to remain vigilant should something draw their attention.
“Runners should be aware of their surroundings,” said Chris Weiller, NYRR Senior Vice President of Media and Public Relations. “If they see an unattended object or people that may look out of place, they should call it to the attention of the nearest race official or police officer.”