Mini Marathon security, tributes influenced by Boston attack

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As the largest half-marathon in the country is set to begin, runners in Indianapolis will notice increased security measures and heartfelt tributes influenced by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon last month.

Plans for increased security in the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings and the changes will be evident to runners, fans and volunteers throughout the race.

Race officials banned backpacks and other types of bags from the runner gear check zones. Instead, runners are only able to use a designated plastic bag provided during packet pickup, and that’s not all.

“They’re tightening up the corrals a little bit too,” said Patty Hutsell, a runner from Southern Indiana. “I may have to meet my friends at different spots, but we’ll hook up. It’s all for the best.”

The security changes will also extend beyond the street level, thanks to the addition of a mobile camera system that provides telescoping cameras that can capture 360 degree images.

“In areas where a traditional camera is only used to seeing a small specific area, we can see what happened in every direction at that time,” said Gannon Switzer with Koorsen Security Technology.

Koorsen is donating the entire setup for the race. The company president said he felt compelled to help after seeing the bombings in Boston.

“Everyone is a little nervous now and anything we can do to help the city make people feel safer that’s our mission,” said company president Randy Koorsen.

“I welcome those security measures,” said Crystal Jelks, a runner from Gary. “If it’s going to make it a safer environment for all of the runners and make people feel more comfortable with coming out to events like this, it’s well worth it.”

“It is scary,” said Kimberly Wells, a runner from Gary, “but you just have to keep moving and keep running and you can’t be fearful. You can’t live your life in fear.”

That’s the same message behind the “Indy Loves Boston” t-shirt, created by local retailer Vardagen. The front of the shirt reads: “It is for love, not fear, that we run”.

“The terrorists want fear but we respond in love,” said Jared Ingold, owner of Vardagen.

Vardagen will donate $12 from each shirt to OneFundBoston.org. The company sold the t-shirt at the Mini Expo and also sells it at Vardagen.com. Ingold said they set out to raise $10,000.

“It’s kind of like from Indianapolis to Boston, you know, just a unified gift,” Ingold said. “I definitely think we’re going to reach that.”

It’s a message many are taking to heart as they prepare to run on Saturday.

“I don’t have any fears at all about it,” Hutsell said. “I think everything is going to go great. It’s a strong group of people, you can see that from the people around here, they will never stop us.”