The annual Kick-Off Press Conference to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon took a different angle this year, following confirmation that the gunman from the Vegas shooting looked at Chicago first.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, backed by members of the Federal Bureau-Investigation and Chicago Police Department at Thursday’s conference, assured everyone that the entire city of Chicago is working to provide a safe environment for Sunday’s race. In addition to the marathon, there is a Chicago Cubs playoffs game Sunday, and a Chicago Bears football game Monday night.
“We’re the city of big shoulders; we put on big events, we host them and people enjoy them,” Emanuel says. “When something happened in Boston, even though we had 30 plus marathons, we triple checked it all and ran through different scenarios. When something happened in Paris, something happened in Brussels, something happened in London, we constantly are revising and asking fundamental questions about what goes on.”
More specifically, chief of the Police Department’s Organized Crime bureau Anthony Riccio stated a significantly larger number of undercover officers will be dispersed throughout the city to look for suspicious activity. They will be placed in the crowds, with the runners, and at both the start and finish lines, Riccio adds.
Emanuel assures that as soon as last year’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon ended, the city came together to start planning for this one. In the last 12 months, 17 new safety exercises have been practiced, and since the attack in Vegas on Monday, everything has been double and triple checked. Additionally, there will be 13 different first-responder organizations coordinating and securing the route.
Despite the extra security and constant plan revisions, city Office of Emergency Management and Communications Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau says everyone needs to be incorporated to help keep the city safe.
“If you see something say something; if it looks unusual, who do you report it to? 9-1-1,” she says.
Tate-Nadeau also says that hotel staffs and others have been notified to keep an eye out for anything unusual, as there are dozens of high-rises along the course.
Emanuel is confident that the 40th anniversary of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is going to showcase the great city and history of the world-class event.
“The world comes to Chicago and Chicago goes to the world when we have this marathon,” Emanuel says. “We are going to go forward correctly with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon because it is the right thing to do.”
Race Director Carey Pinkowski also looks forward to the great celebration of Chicago and the marathon tradition.
“Over 40 years the marathon has grown from humble beginnings to international status,” Pinkowski says. “After months of training, runners from all abilities and walks of life, have come from across the country and around the world and will converge in Grant Park … and celebrate humanity, which is what the marathon is about.