Spokane police Chief Frank Straub said runners and spectators can expect heightened security the moment they board a bus to downtown Spokane on Sunday during the 37th Lilac Bloomsday Run.
The Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds April 15 was a factor in creating a joint security effort among local, state and federal agencies to keep the 12-kilometer race fun and safe, Straub said at a press conference Tuesday.
Authorities believe there’s nothing to indicate a threat targeting Bloomsday, Straub said.
“You have to remember that this is a 36-year event that has always been a safe event,” Straub said. “All we’re doing is tweaking it and adding a few assets.”
The department will use two helicopters for patrol: one from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and one from the Office of Air and Marine, a Department of Homeland Security agency. Uniformed and plainclothed Spokane officers and deputies will scout on the ground.
Participants are asked to say something to the nearest uniformed officer or race volunteer if they see any suspicious activity or objects.
“I’m not going to say don’t call 911, but you’ll get a much quicker response by going to those on course,” Straub said.
A bomb squad will be working throughout the race as well, he added.
Lilac Bloomsday Association directors said runners and walkers are required to display official race tags before lining up to run this year. Unregistered family members and friends will not be able to join runners in the lineup either, according to Bloomsday’s website.
Backpacks and gym bags will not be allowed on the course, Straub said. Instead of carrying extra layers of clothing, Straub said to wear disposable sweaters and jackets to stay warm during the chilly morning hours.
Another option as the temperature rises: tossing excess clothing into the bushes and trees along the course, a longtime tradition for Bloomies. Discarded clothing is later picked up and donated to charity.
“It’s supposed to be an absolutely beautiful day from a weather standpoint,” Straub said. “The bottom line here is to go out and have fun – enjoy (Bloomsday) as a family event.”