The London Marathon Will Go On This Weekend, Organizers Say

Race officials are reviewing security precautions with local police after the attacks in Boston Monday.

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Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

The two explosions that tore through the finish line of the Boston marathon Monday, which left scores injured and at least two dead, have elicited expressions of sympathy from around the globe. French President Francois Hollande offered his condolences shortly after midnight from Paris, as did Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper from Ottawa.

Few are likely paying as close attention as the organizers of the London Marathon, which is scheduled for this coming Sunday. Nick Bitel, chief executive of the London Marathon, expressed his sadness and shock in a statement released shortly after the bombs went off in Boston. But, he later told the BBC, he will "definitely not be cancelling" London's race, which has occurred annually since 1981.

Bitel said in a statement that the organizers had been in close communication with the London police. "Our security plan is developed jointly with the Metropolitan Police and we were in contact with them as soon as we heard the news," he said.

Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry told the BBC that there were extensive security arrangements in place, but that they would be reviewed following the events in Boston.

As Anthony Ronan, a security expert at New York's Ronan & Associates, told The New York Times today, marathons are typically high-alert events for cities:

"For major events in New York and other large cities, Mr. Roman said the police would typically weld manhole covers shut, while also examining the entire route just before the race. They would also place snipers on rooftops, with helicopters overhead. Analytic cameras in the city would also be used, he said."

Boston, New York and London are among the six World Marathon Majors, prestigious, high-intensity races that typically draw tens of thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators. They therefore require substantial resources. In October, after Hurricane Sandy left parts of New York City underwater, marathon organizers were heavily criticized for their insistence that the race should go on -- along with the 1,500 policemen it required. The race was eventually cancelled.

For now, at least, London race organizers are determined to carry on.

Top image: The London Marathon route winds past Buckingham Palace, April 2012. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters.

About the Author

  • Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.