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Flying Pig, Capital City races take new look at security

CINCINNATI – Organizers of Cincinnati’s upcoming Flying Pig Marathon held a huddle over security plans Tuesday in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon explosions that killed three people and injured scores.

A previously planned meeting with police had added urgency, with the annual race weekend coming up May 3-5. As many as 33,000 people were expected to take part in a series of races in downtown Cincinnati highlighted by the 15th marathon Sunday morning.

The race already has extensive security and medical response plans in place, but officials will consider whether additional measures are needed, executive director Iris Simpson-Bush said.

“The safety measures and precautions have always been there,” she told WLWT-TV before heading to the police meeting. “But naturally, this makes us go back and re-audit what we do.”

She said any new measures wouldn’t necessarily be announced publicly.

Besides the marathon expected to draw 5,000 runners, thousands more take part in races that include a one-mile run Friday night and children’s races Saturday. The marathon takes its name from Cincinnati’s winged-pig sculptures, a whimsical nod to the city’s past as a pork-packing center.

Cincinnati police officials will also meet with federal authorities as the investigation continues into the Boston explosions.

The Capital City Half Marathon is also coming up May 4 in downtown Columbus, with some 14,000 runners and walkers expected.

Organizers said Tuesday they will reconsider some public access areas, security at the start and finish lines, bag checks and credentialing procedures.

“The entire walking and running community around the country may look at these events a little differently,” said David Babner, the race director.

He said registration numbers have actually spiked after news of the explosion, indicating people want to show solidarity with Boston.

Organizers of the Cleveland Marathon next month, and the Columbus Marathon and the U.S. Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base this fall, said they will review security for their own events.

Darris Blackford, Columbus Marathon director who ran in Boston on Monday, said expect an increased police and bomb squad presence, areas cordoned off and restrictions on placing items in the race area. The race is expected to draw 18,000 runners and walkers.

“I worry about these things all the time,” Blackford said. “I am up nights scared about these kinds of things, because we have thousands of lives at stake in our events as well. It sickens me and it’s discouraging.”

Among other Ohioans in Boston to run in Monday’s race were former U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, a veteran marathoner; her twin sister, Jennifer Black; the chief prosecutor for Cuyahoga County, Timothy McGinty, and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s wife Tina. There weren’t any immediate reports of Ohioans being among the injured.

“It’s just terrible,” said Tina Husted, who had finished the race and was in a van about a block from the finish line when she heard “this huge boom” that shook the van. She said she’ll have to think about whether she will return to the Boston race, which she has completed twice.

Runner Ladd Clifford said he won’t change plans to run in Cleveland’s marathon next month and an Akron run this fall. The Medina resident finished his run Monday about 15 minutes before the explosions.

“There’s nothing you can do about nuts like this except take your chances and hope it doesn’t happen again,” said Clifford, 45, who works for 3M.

Associated Press writers Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Ann Sanner in Columbus contributed.

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