OKC Marathon Will Go On As Planned, Officials Discuss Security

Apr 16, 2013

Team Oklahoma Christian begins the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon - May 1, 2011
Credit Oklahoma Christian University / Flickr

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says there have been no threats or heightened security in the aftermath of a bombing at the Boston Marathon - but that senses are heightened.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett says there are currently no plans to call off this year's Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon - but said events will be monitored daily.

"Obviously this time of the year on the calendar is a heightened alert in Oklahoma City. It has been for 18 years," Cornett says, referencing the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. 

"The added concern over the last two hours has been that this event in Boston occurred at a marathon, and we're less than two weeks away from running a similar race," Cornett said Monday during a 4 p.m. press conference.

OHP Trooper Betsy Randolph says authorities have always focused on security measures around the April 19 anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and during the marathon.

Norman resident Emily Bonner was in Boston to support a friend who ran the race. She plans to lead a group of schoolchildren from McKinley Elementary in Norman through the Kids Marathon portion of the Oklahoma City event on April 28.

"I'll probably be really careful to have their release forms and their contact information on my body," Bonner says. "And ask any parents if they're willing to come with me. I'm sure most of them will."

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson says police have always increased security for the race and adds both on-duty and off-duty officers for the race.

"We have bomb techs that are assigned to this," Nelson says. "They've been assigned to this race ever since its inception. We pride ourselves on making sure this race is safe for everyone that's involved, and in light of the situation that's happened in Boston we'll be ever-so-vigilant during this year's race."

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon co-founder Chet Collier told media members he wouldn't stand at the lectern and look reporters in the eye if he wasn't comfortable with the decisions and security procedures in place.

"We are well aware that this is not an essential or a necessary event," Collier says. "We are not afraid to cancel it if we feel threatened, but in the absence of a credible threat we're going to proceed forward and make this the safest event we can."

Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum Executive Director Kari Watkins says race officials put the finishing touches on an emergency plan Monday morning, as they watched the Boston Marathon on television.

Watkins says runners who did not complete the Boston Marathon due to those explosions near the  finish line are welcome to participate in the 13th annual Oklahoma City Memorial  Marathon for free. Watkins says the memorial can underwrite the runners' race, but not their travel.


Information from the Associated Press was used in this report