Security, and even more security

Twenty minutes after arriving in the lobby of his New York City hotel a year ago, New York City Marathon officials cancelled the race.

"Everybody was just shell-shocked,'' said Shaun Palmer, a Rochester building inspector and avid runner. "You've never seen so many sad faces in your life.''

The race was cancelled due to the aftermath from Hurricane Sandy.

Fast forward to April. Twenty minutes after completing the Boston Marathon, a couple of bombs went off.

"I had just finished, we were about two blocks away,'' Palmer said, "and it was just chaos. It was about 20 minutes after I finished and we did manage to get to our hotel room and watched the whole scene on TV.''


This weekend Palmer and his wife Sue were back in New York City and guess what? Nothing shocking to report.

Palmer was finally able to complete the New York City Marathon for the first time. He was clocked in 4:01.08.

And never has he ever seen so much security. Next time you really want to be safe and secure, sign up to run the New York City Marathon. On Sunday, there was probably not a safer place on the planet than in and around the marathon course.

"Unbelievable,'' Palmer said. "During the race, there was at least one cop every quarter of a mile. The entire course, that's 26.2 miles, was under camera surveillance.''

It was reported that at least 1,500 security cameras were positioned along the course.

"It was a different experience, that's for sure.''

Different, but neat all at the same time. And strange.

"There is no better word for it,'' Palmer said. "I don't know how many times I was searched and there were dogs everywhere.''


All runners were, indeed, screened and inspected once they got off the buses taking them to the start of the race.

"The Staten Island Ferry took us to the starting line,'' Palmer said, "and the ferry was escorted by Coast Guard boats with counter-terrorism officers on board. It was eerie.''

If you saw one, you saw dozens of guards with machine guns. Scuba divers scanned the bridges. Did we mention the bomb-sniffing dogs?

"Helicopters were constantly flying overhead,'' he said.

Palmer qualified — his qualifying standard was 3:30 — to run New York three years ago.

"It was one of those things you want to get done,'' he said. "New York is one of the big five marathons in the world and to run them all is a goal of mine.''

Palmer was not alone. He was running among 47,000 of his closest friends.

"The race starts on a double-deck bridge and after you take a right at the first corner, you could see people eight miles away,'' Palmer said.


It took him just three minutes to get to the starting line, and all things considered, that's not bad.

"Once you got going, there was no problem in running your pace,'' he said. "But like I said, you were never alone.''

There were 130 bands along the course as well. It was a festive day.

Everyone was required to carry their belongings in clear-plastic bags and there were cops and dogs everywhere at the finish line in Central Park. All spectators in the grandstands and at the family reunion area were also subject to baggage inspections and screenings.

"I think they said they doubled the security force for this race,'' Palmer said. "I believe it.''

Palmer has now completed 11 marathons, among them, Fargo, Twin Cities, Rochester's Med-City, Lake Wobegon and, of course, Boston, which is his favorite.

"They do so many good things at Boston,'' said Palmer, who will turn 55 this month and thus move into a new, age-group running division. "I think that will always be my favorite race.

"But New York is nice, too. I didn't go as fast as I wanted but I enjoyed it very much.''

What To Read Next
Get Local