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Boston blasts spur security changes for Ohio races

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

CINCINNATI — From bomb-sniffing dogs to uniformed military members and bag searches, runners will notice more security at major events in Ohio's four largest cities in the next month and indefinitely thereafter.

The changes are a result of the Boston Marathon bombings and a flurry of meetings between Ohio's race organizers, local police and federal authorities to review security plans.

Even as the shock and despair of the bombings was sinking in, race organizers knew they would need to rethink the way things have been done for years.

In Cincinnati, for example, runners at the Flying Pig Marathon on May 5, who have always been able to bring their own bags from home and check them in with event organizers, will have to use clear, race-issued bags or nothing at all, said Iris Simpson-Bush, executive director of the race.

Overall security will be more than doubled from past events and for the first time will include bomb-sniffing dogs and uniformed volunteers from the National Guard, Simpson-Bush said.

David Babner, race director for the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus — expected to draw 14,000 runners — said his event on May 4 will use bomb-sniffing dogs for the first time and will increase the amount of officers at the event.

Similar efforts will be taken at Cleveland's marathon on May 19, said Jack Staph, executive race director.

“We're strengthening security at all levels,” he said. “We're not going to let terrorists or evil or bad people stop us from putting on something that is very good.”

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