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Boston prompts Ottawa, London race organizers to review security

As running enthusiasts try to regroup from a terrifying day at the Boston Marathon, organizers of other high-profile races are assuring their participants that security measures are being reviewed.

About 36,000 athletes are expected to run past iconic attractions such the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace this weekend as part of the London Marathon. In the wake of the Boston blasts Monday, London insisted that safety will be a top priority.

"It is a very sad day for athletics and for our friends and colleagues in marathon running," said Nick Bitel, London Marathon Chief Executive. "Our immediate thoughts are with the people there and their families. Our security plan is developed jointly with the Metropolitan Police, and we were in contact with them as soon as we heard the news."

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Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry confirmed that the security arrangements in partnership with London Marathon are being thoroughly reviewed.

The Ottawa Marathon is another major event on the calendar for many running enthusiasts, scheduled for May 25-26, with about 44,000 participants expected in the various events during the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

"We are very saddened that one of our colleagues got attacked, and while it's shocking, it's not surprising," said John Halvorsen, race director of the Ottawa Marathon. "In this day and age, I can see that it could be a target. It's Patriot's Day in Boston, and that event is a very famous event globally. We've discussed before whether this type of thing could happen in Ottawa, and while it might not be very likely, we've definitely discussed being prepared for it."

Many of the same athletes who ran in Monday's Boston Marathon typically also take part in the Ottawa race weekend, either as spectators or in the shorter-distance races offered.

"Events like the Super Bowl have heightened security, but it's more enclosed inside a stadium, while marathons are more difficult to secure, outdoors and very public, not unlike a parade or the Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa," Mr. Halvorsen said. "So we have to rely on the police and people who are experienced in securing large events like that. They can help us evaluate if changes in our security are needed, and if so, we'll make them."

Mr. Halvorsen said Ottawa's race is known to have one of the loudest and best finish lines in North America, and he hopes that the tenor of the race doesn't change.

"Do I think people may choose not to attend our race weekend because of what happened in Boston or if the mood may be effected? I'm not sure – I suppose people will have their own views on how possible it would be for this sort of thing to happen in Ottawa," he said. "We are a capital city and the biggest, most popular race weekend in Canada, so I guess that potentially makes us a target. We don't think it's very likely, but we do have to acknowledge the possibility."

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