Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=220235
Story Retrieval Date: 9/2/2014 1:44:42 AM CST

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Jan Seeley, Illinois Marathon Director

Illinois Marathon runners finish the 2012 race at the  Memorial Stadium of the University of Illinois.


Illinois Marathon officials confident their event will be safe

by Diana Blass
Apr 17, 2013


Illinois Marathon events in Champaign-Urbana will commence in just over a week. But at a time when preparations are normally set in stone, race officials met Wednesday to consider new safeguards in light of Monday’s bombings in Boston.

 

They promised increased vigilance, but wouldn't disclose details.

The Illinois Marathon, beginning April 25,  includes a series of races over three days with about 20,000 participants in all. A meeting between race officials and law enforcement on Wednesday was on the calendar from the beginning. But, according to Scott Friedlein, the marathon’s emergency services coordinator, the scheduled review took a new turn.

Rick Atterberry, the public information officer at the University of Illinois, would not detail precise changes but said security will be stepped up. He confirmed bomb-sniffing dogs would be on site.   

The race runs along the campus of the University of Illinois, which is no stranger to public events.  Hundreds of football games have taken place in the same location as the finish line of the race: Memorial Stadium.

“The main thing for folks and runners to know is that because of the presence of the university we are confident in our ability,” said Atterberry. “Everyone is used to working together.”

And, race officials aren’t the only ones working together to support the marathon. In a little over 24 hours, the marathon has gained about 60 volunteers.

Sarah Taylor Lovell, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, said on the Illinois Marathon’s Facebook page that her participation in the Boston Marathon prompted her decision to volunteer.

“Today, for the first time, I registered as a volunteer,” she said.  “I’m doing this in honor of the victims of Boston and also to honor all of those who have supported these races through their time and enthusiasm.”

Others are using the Illinois Marathon as a way to fundraise for the victims in Boston.  

Hannah Bartman, a student at the University of Illinois, created Pray for Boston Shoelaces.  She and a friend are selling shoelaces, which are the colors of the Boston Athletes Association, and donating all proceeds to the Boston Marathon.

“The shoelaces were something small, symbolic of running,” Bartman said.  “We liked how every time from now on when we lace up for a run, we are remembering those who can no longer can run.”

Bartman said that after posting her efforts on social media outlets, she received numerous orders.

“We already have had to place a second bulk order,” she said.

A fundraising event is in the works by the Illinois Marathon as well, according to Jan Steeley, the marathon’s director. She said more details will be available at the end of the week.