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Because of construction, runners will find the 400 block of West Superior Street narrower than usual this year. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

Grandma's Marathon: Usual precautions for race-day security

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Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

Race-day security at events across the country may never be the same after the bombings that marred the 2013 Boston Marathon.

At the historic race 14 months ago, a pair of     pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line killed three and injured more than 260. Security at races has been ratcheted up ever since.

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That was the case at last year’s Grandma’s Marathon, and it will be the case again Saturday.

“It’s going to be status quo with what happened last year,” Grandma’s executive director Jon Carlson said. “There was a nice balance … it wasn’t to the point where people were afraid, but at the same time they felt secure.”

Status quo includes more police officers than what was typical before last year; more cameras, with live monitoring; a restriction on spectator bags near the finish line area; and runners being required to use clear plastic bags for transportation of their valuables from start to finish.

Carlson said the feedback from 2013 was mostly positive as runners and fans alike hardly noticed the difference from years past. The additional officers seemed to blend in with the crowd.

“The runners were extremely happy,” Carlson said. “We got a lot of comments on the runners’ surveys, and they were very happy with what they saw. They felt safe.”

Security for Grandma’s is a coordinated effort among a multitude of local, state and national agencies.

Construction not a concern

The ongoing construction along the 400 block of West Superior Street, for the new Maurices corporate headquarters, won’t affect Grandma’s Marathon or the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on Saturday, Carlson said, even though that section of the course will be about half its normal width.

“At that point in the race, it’s so thinned out,” Carlson said.

That block constitutes about mile mark No. 25 for the marathon. Just before the construction is a water station on the lower side of the street that naturally will funnel people to the accessible half of Superior Street — where they will want to be anyway to turn left onto Fifth Avenue West. The upper side of the street on that block is sealed off as the old KDLH-TV and Palladio buildings are demolished.

Forecast for Saturday

The forecasts for Duluth and Two Harbors on Saturday — not surprisingly — continue to change.

As of Tuesday, it looks like the high temperature will reach into the low 70s with about a 30 percent chance of precipitation. The Weather Channel is predicting about 80 percent humidity and 11 mph winds out of the north-northeast.

This is the sixth time Grandma’s will fall on June 21. The average starting-time temperature for the first five was 56.8 degrees.

Runners likely wouldn’t mind a reprisal of 2013 conditions when temperatures hovered in the 50s throughout the day. Overcast skies, periodic mist and a slight tailwind made it ideal running weather.

Tidbits

Defending women’s marathon champ Sarah Kiptoo of Kenya is back to defend her title. Kiptoo set a course record for women in 2013 when she ran a 2:26:32, also a personal best. … The prize purse for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon has been increased by $4,600, to $26,100. The men’s and women’s winners each receive $3,000. The prize money for the full marathon is $100,000, with the men’s and women’s winners each receiving $10,000. … According to the race’s media guide, 44 countries and 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, will be represented in the 38th annual Grandma’s Marathon. Additionally, 149 grandmas are registered for the 26.2-mile race.

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