ONE POLICE PLAZA — If you're headed to Sunday's New York City Marathon, travel light and expect to navigate a few more checkpoints in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, the police commissioner said Friday.
“Spectators and competitors should look forward to the marathon as they would any other,” Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “But they should anticipate increased security measures and police presence.”
Kelly and New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg highlighted several security tweaks to Sunday’s race that they began tinkering with April 16 — including closing off large chunks of Central Park and giving runners additional screening before they take their marks.
The commissioner urged the more than 45,000 runners to leave their backpacks at home and added that the New York Road Runners are giving out clear bags to pick up before the race to alleviate long waits.
He also said that the NYPD is making a secure zone, stretching from Columbus Circle into the West 70s and from Central Park West to Broadway near the race’s finish.
“Individuals who require event credentials and special access to secure areas, such as organizers, volunteers and other personnel, have been pre-screened in addition to the physical screening they’ll receive on Sunday,” he added.
Last year’s race was canceled following Superstorm Sandy.
The changes to the event come more than six months after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and maiming 280 others.
Kelly has met with Boston Police Department brass and said he picked up several practical tips for this year’s race.
In addition to the changes at the start and finish, the NYPD has located more than 1,400 private-sector cameras to retrieve footage if necessary, assigned scuba divers to comb the areas near the bridges that will be crossed, and is using harbor units to escort ferries that take runners to the beginning. It will also deplore 43 bomb-sniffing dogs along the route.
“We are looking forward to a great day for New York City on Sunday,” Wittenberg said. “We have run close to 20 races since Boston. We are so close to the starting line and are committed to a great day.”