Chicago Marathon keeps extra security in place

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Marathon steps off this Sunday and participants and spectators are being reminded about strict security measures for the marathon.

It was five years ago when Tom Histed last ran the Chicago Marathon, so when he runs on Sunday he'll notice some changes. As they did last year, runners will have to pick up their own bibs. They also must carry their belongings in race-issued clear plastic bags and enter the Grant Park start area through one of five checkpoints where they may be subject to wanding. But Histed doesn't mind.

"I think it's great they're taking those precautions," Histed says. "I really appreciate the work those guys do to keep us safe."

On Tuesday, city officials outlined their marathon plans, street closings, and a detailed security effort.

"We have a strong plan in place to insure that the Chicago marathon is a safe and successful event," said Chicago Police Chief Steve Georgas.

There will be plenty of eyes watching along the route, both human and electronic. Uniforms and undercover police teams will be placed along the route, and law enforcement has the capability of accessing video surveillance from some 27,000 cameras, a portion of which can be watched in real time. Marathon staff will be watching too from a high tech operation headquartered in Grant Park.

Spectators are being told not to bring bags or backpacks, and if they do they will be subject to random screening.

Race officials say the changes last year seemed to work without much aggravation.

"We feel very confident with what's in place," says Carey Pinkowski, executive director of the Chicago Marathon. "We had a year in which we implemented those enhancements and we'll stay with that."

And for Histed, one of 45,000 running, no worries save perhaps for the grind a marathon brings to the body.
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