Home Social Justice The Boston Marathon tragedy: What Ohio race organizers can learn

The Boston Marathon tragedy: What Ohio race organizers can learn

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Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager, was waiting along Boylston Street in downtown Boston with her best friend on Monday afternoon. They had gone together to the 117th Annual Boston Marathon to cheer on the friend’s boyfriend and snap a picture of him as he crossed the finish line.

Eight-year-old Martin Richard eagerly ran out to greet his father, Bill, with a hug as Bill crossed the finish line. The third grader then returned to where his mother and younger sister were waiting on the sidelines.

Lu Lingzi, 23, went to the Marathon with some friends, eager to get a taste of such a cherished American tradition. The Chinese national, a graduate student at Boston University, had always dreamed of coming to the United States to study and learn.

All three of them were in the wrong place at the wrong time. At around 2:50 p.m., when two explosions shook Boylston Street one after another, their lives were tragically cut short.

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy, some questions will undoubtedly go unanswered. With one of the alleged perpetrators dead and the other suffering serious injuries, it may be a while before law enforcement officials are able to get the answers they need.

However, that doesn’t mean that public safety officials are going to stand idly by as they wait for the surviving suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to recover and be questioned. Organizers of hundreds of large races across the country, including several here in Ohio, are already planning on implementing extra procedures to ensure public safety and lessen the opportunity for terrorism.

The Columbus Marathon, the largest race in the state, won’t take place until October 20. However, director Darris Blackford, who participated in the ill-fated Boston Marathon, is already considering heightened security arrangements.

“It’s a very, very easy opportunity to take advantage of a group of people gathered at any place…It’s definitely made me think about the areas that we will probably be restricting, pedestrians and spectators, on race morning downtown because there are walkways, things like Pearl Alley, where people can hide,” Blackford said in an interview with WOSU, Columbus’s public broadcasting center.

Many small details that seemed insignificant in the past are now a cause for concern, according to Blackford. For example, runners are usually given dark backpacks in which to keep their belongings; however, Blackford said that race organizers this year may instead decide to give out clear plastic bags so that dangerous devices would be harder to hide.

The perpetrators of the Boston bombings hid the explosive devices inside backpacks, which they casually abandoned in the middle of a large crowd near the finish line.

On Monday, Blackford posted a statement on the Columbus Marathon’s official website, writing, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by today’s explosion at the Boston Marathon…all of us at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon will be thinking of you and sending a little extra love to the entire racing community this evening.”

Participants in races over the course of the past week have shown support for those affected in Boston in their own unique ways. The London Marathon, which took place on Sunday, observed a moment of silence before the first runners took their marks. Runners were encouraged to cross the finish line with their hands over their hearts.

Additionally, according to USA Today, “organizers of the London Marathon have pledged to donate about $5 for every finisher to The One Fund Boston, set up by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to help those most affected by what occurred in Boston.”

As the United States searches for answers as to why this devastating act of terrorism was committed, Americans and others around the world will continue to honor the memories of the three young lives lost on what was supposed to be a day of spirit and joy. Until answers are found, leaders plan to do as much as they possibly can to ensure that nobody else becomes a victim.

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