The Salt Lake City Marathon a week after Boston Marathon explosions

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The mood was triumphant at Liberty Park when the runners in the Salt Lake City Marathon crossed the finish line in safety, despite the cold and the rain.

BYU students Ellie Hall and Jackson Deere stand wet and cold but triumphant after running in the Salt Lake City Marathon and half marathon a week after the explosions at the Boston Marathon.
BYU students Ellie Hall and Jackson Deere stand wet and cold but triumphant after running in the Salt Lake City Marathon and half marathon a week after the explosions at the Boston Marathon. (Photo by Daniella Subieta)

Bryant Jensen, the marathon winner that clocked in at 2:30:14, said the experience of running in the first big-city, domestic marathon since the Boston Marathon explosions was special.

“The Boston Marathon was on my mind pretty much the whole time I was running,” he said.

The race organizers honored Boston runners in a number of ways, such as having participants sign a “Remembering Boston” poster, having a moment of silence before the start of the race, playing “Sweet Caroline” and handing out blue, yellow and green ribbons for runners to wear while they ran.

Rob Lee, a volunteer with the race, said the community response to honor Boston runners by participating in the Salt Lake City Marathon was great.

“We’ve had great community outreach, and we had a ton of people sign up at the expo because they wanted to be a part of something,” he said. “We have a lot of people from Boston that wanted to finish a race, and they signed up their whole families.”

And Saturday at the race, signs supporting Boston could be seen at points all along the race.

“Every time we’d run past those,” Lee said, “people were just cheering. Even if you’re not a Red Sox fan, we’re cheering for Boston.”

Security and law enforcement also saw people respond to their advice with attention. Craig Bello, deputy commander for the 87th Civil Support Team of the National Guard, said that while his team, which monitors the atmosphere for hazardous materials, usually doesn’t come out for the Salt Lake City Marathon, this year was different.

“We were asked to come out because of what happened in Boston,” he said. “It’s been great, great working with first responders, great to provide that support to the public, make them feel good that we’re out here, trying to protect and make sure nothing happens.”

Terry Fritz, deputy chief over the Special Operations Bureau in Salt Lake City, said that other aspects of security didn’t change much, but the approach to dealing with the public did.

“We’ve basically just done the same thing (this year) and added some components to it,” he said. “A lot more things that were normally in the background now came to the forefront.”

He said while the bomb units do a covert sweep at the marathon every year, this year the sweep was purposely obvious.

“We’ve had them out and about, very visible, so people could see them, talk to them and know that they’re here, in light of what took place in Boston,” Fritz said.

Additionally, the police added covert, plain-clothed officers and asked the public to maintain possession of their bags, tag them and hand them off to family members.

“The public has been a great help to us,” Fritz said. “The weather helped too … people didn’t congregate, they kept moving, they didn’t leave their bags on the ground.

Ellie Hall, a marriage and family studies major at BYU, ran the full marathon and said she appreciated the law enforcement and security personnel and planning.

“(It was) reassuring more than anything,” Hall said, “and just (seeing) the normal police presence, they’re great, and they’re great to come out in the rain.”

BYU student Jackson Deere, who ran the half marathon, agreed that security was reassuring. And even though he has no specific tie to Boston, the experience of participating allowed him to commemorate the tragedy of last week.

“It was cool,” Deere said. “Half of the signs (held by supporters) had something to do with Boston, ‘We love Boston,’ or something like that. … It was great, it was cold and wet, but really fun.”

Fritz said the weather, security and participants came together in a healing and commemorative way for locals and the nation.

“It’s been a good mixture between a very patriotic community that wanted to come out and show that we’re not going to let someone scare us away from our events,” said Fritz.

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