With heavy police presence, crowds attend NYC Marathon

David Jeans
Associated Press

New York — Under the watchful eye of an extremely heavy police presence, crowds of spectators turned out Sunday to cheer on the runners taking part in the New York City Marathon just days after a truck attack killed eight people in lower Manhattan.

In Brooklyn, where runners made their way down a long stretch, roads were blocked and officers lined the street. As the runners went by, they were accompanied by an escort of police vehicles.

That didn’t deter spectators, though. Throngs lined the sides of the street, frantically waving cow bells and cheering as the marathoners came by.

Karen Hester, 42, said she was “not in the slightest” bit concerned about being in a crowded space or the threat of a terror attack. The New Zealand native, who has lived in New York City for 10 years, watches the race every year, and this year wasn’t going to be any different.

“There’s even more people this year,” Hester said. “I don’t think anyone is touched by any fear.”

Families pushing prams held signs showing messages of encouragement, while some looked on from fire escapes, balconies and rooftops along Fourth Avenue, yelling support for the runners streaming past. “Vive Espana!” shouted one woman. Laughter erupted as a man dressed in a banana costume and a gold crown went by.

A rock band revved up the crowd with the Lenny Kravitz song, “Are You Gonna Go My Way.”

The marathon uses the layout of the city for its 26.2-mile course, which makes its way through residential neighborhoods before ending in Manhattan.

The New York Police Department put together a security detail that included hundreds of extra uniformed patrol and plainclothes officers. There were also roving teams of counterterrorism commandos armed with heavy weapons, bomb-sniffing dogs and rooftop snipers.

The department was also using a tactic that’s been seen at parades and other events — sanitation trucks filled with sand, positioned at key intersections to keep people from being able to drive onto the course.

But “I think once the race started, everyone has forgotten it,” said Bart Ruijpers, 41, who was volunteering at a water station for runners along the route. “We are in the moment of the marathon.”

A two-time participant, he said those taking part would have their minds on their races. “You prepare for this for months and months,” he said. “You are surrounded by all the energy of the crowd for 26 miles.”