EUGENE, Ore. — When the starter pistol goes off, the last thing any marathon runner or spectator is thinking about is a bomb. But with everything that happened in Boston, local enforcement isn’t taking any chances.
‘In light of that, we decided that we’re going to take some proactive measures to make sure that nothing like that would happen in our hometown,” said Lt. Sam Kamkar, Eugene Police Department.
Those measures include collaborating with race organizers, the University of Oregon and the Oregon National Guard.
EPD says metal detectors will ensure there are no explosives, but always trust your own intuition.
“What we would like to see is for people to help us out with being eyes and ears. You know, look for suspicious packages. If they see a backpack, for example, that’s just laying some place unattended, they shouldn’t just walk by. They need to call 911,” Lt. Kamkar said.
Eugene police officers will be working alongside Oregon National Guard soldiers from the 102nd civil support team.
The Salem-based unit got its orders last week, and the 21 members have been working tirelessly to finalize security plans for not only the runners, but anyone watching from the sidelines.
“Our overall mission is to protect all civilians regardless of their participation in an event,” said Richard Paetz, National Guard Commander.
“When that happened with Boston, you start to wonder in the back of your head, can you not go to anything cool anymore with big crowds and not worry about crazy people?” said runner Cameron Hanes.
Hanes ran the Boston Marathon in 2008 and remembers what it felt like to cross the finish line. He says he wasn’t even planning on running the Eugene Marathon this year. But after the Boston tragedy, he told himself he had to run.
“It’s all relative. My pain is temporary. It will be gone maybe not the next day but a couple days later. You put it in perspective, and that’s what it’s all about. I’m going to hurt, but I’m going to enjoy it,” Hanes said.