David Babner grew up and went to college in Boston. His grandmother watched Game 4 of the 2004 World Series with such intensity, it’s quite possible she believed she could have as much of an impact on the outcome as Manny Ramirez. His parents still live there. His younger sister, Jennifer, not only lives there, she loves to celebrate Patriot’s Day by running in the city’s famous marathon. She participated in the race seven times, but couldn’t make the event this year.
It’s natural, then, that Babner would be shaken by Monday’s bombing, but he has yet another reason to feel its impact: He’s the director of the Capital City Half Marathon, which will be held in Columbus just 18 days removed from the tragedy.
“Rest assured that we are reviewing our current security plans and processes with all applicable city safety officials including the Columbus Division of Fire, the Columbus Division of Police and Department of Homeland Security to see what modifications to our current security and safety plans are necessary,” Babner wrote in an open letter to those who plan on being in Columbus May 4th.
So there will be bag checks. Runners wanting to leave their bags of dry clothes, towels, protein bars and other post-race essentials at the finish line will be required to mark their bag with their name and cell phone number as well as those of a relative.
The finish line itself will be fenced in and secured. Only runners and credentialed race officials will be allowed.
However, Columbus sports fans won’t have to wait until then to notice a beefed up security presence.
Clippers team president and General Manager, Ken Schnacke, says they’ve intensified walking and sweeping around the park before and during games. They’ve also received some help from the city in making sure their fans are safe.
Ohio State University Deputy Chief of Police Richard Morman says despite the fact their efforts are already award-winning, they reviewed their policies this week.
“We will take what is learned from the Boston incident and use it to improve our security planning,” he said.
Still, it’s the 13.1 mile marathon course and the marathon’s 40,000-45,000 spectators, none of whom needs a ticket, which will prove a test for law enforcement.
It’s a test Babner is confident they will pass. He is not alone. Since Monday, registrations for the Capital City Half Marathon are up enough that Babner is considering raising the cap on the number of entrants allowed.
“We are celebrating a commitment to an active, healthy lifestyle. Every participant is a champion,” he said. “I think people are saying, ‘You won’t get in the way of our celebration.’”