INDIANAPOLIS - As race participants geared up for the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, event organizers worked with law enforcement officers to strengthen the race's security measures Saturday morning.
Race organizers sent emails explaining security protocols to more than 35,000 people who were expected to participate Saturday. Event planners advised participants against bringing their own backpacks or duffle bags. Instead, each person was given plastic bags to store their belongings. Those with personal bags had them thoroughly inspected, officials said.
The Mini and other similar events can pose huge challenges for police because the event is not confined to a stadium or track, but spread out over miles.
"We can secure it, we can sweep it. We can be present. But five minutes after we leave, it's unsecure again, from our standpoint. That's exactly what they had in Boston," said Ron Humbert with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Bomb Squad.
Officials asked the public for help in a safety campaign encouraging people to speak up if they saw anything suspicious.
"We've had individuals going to police officers saying they've seen something that didn't seem right. We've had a handful of those incidents. We've looked into all of them. Everything is safe and checked out. But we're very pleased citizens are getting involved and providing security at these events," said Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.
Even Gov. Mike Pence and his wife participated in the 5K race.
"We had no information on any threat level being increased, but we were careful and I'm confident all of the measures have been taken," Pence said.
Homeland Security Chief Gary Coons said the starting line corrals were secure to keep anyone other than runners away.
"If you look at Boston, there was no known threat to that event so it's more of all of us working together as a community to make sure our city is safe, but also have fun. What we don't want is for people not to come because of fear," Coons said.
Before the race started, participants and spectators held a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon.
Law enforcement officials said many of the extra security measures were kept secret from the public.
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