Within a few hours of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, TC 10K race director Jacqui Sanderson was on the phone with Victoria Police.
About 13,000 people are expected for the April 28 race throughout downtown Victoria. Though there is no reason to suggest any added security risks in the wake of the Boston tragedy, the TC 10K will bulk up its police and security presence at the event, just in case.
“We’ll put additional resources on race weekend but there’s no evidence to suggest any added risk. The TC 10K is a community event about the celebration of health and fitness and we want to continue promoting that celebration,” Sanderson said.
At no time was cancelling the event considered.
The Vancouver Sun Run, a similar 10-kilometre walk and run event to the TC 10K, is going ahead this Sunday (April 21) with 50,000 people, and the London (U.K.) Marathon will also go ahead, though both have reviewed their security strategies.
To connect the Boston Marathon with a much smaller running event in Victoria is a stretch, said Adam Molnar, a political science doctoral student at UVic is researching security, policing, and emergency management responses in the context of major sporting events.
“Victoria race planners shouldn’t necessarily think that all marathons (and running races) are now going to be targeted. A lot of factors go into someone committing an awful act like this.”
At the same time, a certain amount of planning is needed to calm any nerves around the event, Molnar said. “It does put people on guard, just because of how spectacular the imagery (out of Boston) is and the visual representation. It has a propensity to induce fear and rightly so.”
Molnar’s work is based on interviews with security authorities from Vancouver Police and RCMP, and emergency planners, based on the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
“I think its important that a positive tradition (such as the TC 10K) be allowed to continue in a way that maintains it’s a sports event for the community and not a security event,” Molnar said. “That being said, Victoria needs to have a security strategy proportional to the city and event.”
There’s a lot less pressure for Victoria’s second biggest race, the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, as it won’t happen until Oct. 13.
“Because our event is not until October we are lucky, but we will be talking about it at our next meeting in May. And we’re certainly watching how the Sun Run and Vancouver Marathon (May 5) are handling it,” said Cathy Noel, general manager of the Victoria Marathon.
Noel has been put on alert before, as the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks happened one month before the 2001 Victoria Marathon and in October 2012, Hurricane Sandy cancelled the New York Marathon.
“When New York was cancelled, it was the right thing to do,” Noel said. “(Whatever) has to be done, we’ll do it.”