Increased Police Presence at Marine Corps MarathonOctober 31, 2010 - 3:57 PM | by: Lauren Torlone
The 35th annual Marine Corps Marathon kicked off Sunday morning under sunny skies and intense police surveillance.
The Arlington, Virginia race covers more than 26 miles and has 30,000 participants, but was started under a cloud of security concerns due to recent shootings targeting Marine facilities in the Washington, D.C. area.
For runners, the increased police presence was impossible to miss. Police and military personnel lined virtually every segment of the course, including the start and finish lines. In downtown Washington, D.C., a portable police tower watched participants and spectators as they passed by the Capitol dome. During a security sweep, a bomb sniffing dog was dispatched to an unattended red van along the course route. At the finish line, military officers blocked off entrances and roadways, while a helicopter surveyed the scene from above.
Despite the stepped up security, runners were by and large undeterred. Many had traveled from out of town to run the marathon, and said the recent shootings didn’t concern them enough not to come. When asked about the number of police officers on the scene, one runner said, “their presence was known, but they weren’t intrusive in our racing. It just felt secure and everybody had a really good time and you knew that they were out there to support us and to keep us safe at the same time.” Another runner was reassured by the extra security, noting, “it was just a comfortable feeling to know that they were there, they were cheering us on and they were also keeping us safe.” A runner from out of town remarked that the most out of the ordinary thing she saw on this Halloween day was a “few costumes.”
Thursday, two shots were fired at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA, an attack that came on the heels of two similar incidents at the Pentagon and at a Marine recruiting station in Chantilly, VA earlier this month. On Friday, federal officials said the shooter could be a Marine or someone with a grievance against the Marines or the U.S. military overall.