WEST LOOP — When top city officials gathered for a media briefing on Chicago Marathon security Tuesday, they allowed themselves a brief break for levity.
After Office of Emergency Management and Communications Executive Director Gary Schenkel cited a forecast of partly sunny with a chance of showers and a high of 72 degrees on race day Sunday, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy couldn't resist joking him about it.
"Did you guys catch that Director Schenkel is telling us what the weather's going to be like in four days?" McCarthy said. "I've been here two and a half years, and I don't think we can predict it 10 minutes from now."
The city officials were able to laugh, even while addressing the deadly serious issue of race security in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year.
"We worry about everything," McCarthy said.
To that end, officials laid out what they called "enhancements" to the normal race security after the Boston bombing. The 45,000 runners taking part will not be able to leave items in backpacks at the start, and anything they discard along the 26.2-mile route will be confiscated and trashed.
In addition to new security measures for runners, anyone among the 1 million spectators expected along the course with a backpack or large bag will also be subject to search by police, including plainclothes officers and bomb-sniffing dogs — similar to precautions taken for the Blackhawks' championship rally.
"We're gonna have eyes on the ground on just about every foot of the marathon route," McCarthy said. They'll also use trained dogs brought in from federal agencies such as the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and even the Secret Service.
"They're not charging us for the assistance," Schenkel said, while also declining to set a price tag for the overall security measures.
Anyone not actually in the race will not be able to join a runner on the course for any stretch.
"We're gonna discourage it strongly," McCarthy said.
And only ticketed spectators, runners and race officials will be permitted at the start and finish lines in Grant Park. Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said tickets were being distributed through Chicago Marathon charities.
The race begins in Grant Park Sunday morning with wheelchair contestants starting to go off at 7:15, the first wave of elite runners at 7:30 and the second wave of general runners at 8.
Security officials also reminded city residents to beware parking restrictions along the race course the night before, as well as street closures throughout the city as the runners wind through 29 neighborhoods from Sunday morning until as late as 4:30 in the afternoon.
"There are no known threats to Chicago or the marathon at this point," McCarthy said, adding that they were working to ensure a "fun, safe and secure event for all involved.
"We expect that it's going to be a great day for the City of Chicago — particularly with the weather, apparently."