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Sunday 31 August 2014

Off the Ball: Over-the-top security ruins marathon spirit

Off the Ball - Donny Mahoney

Published 06/11/2013 | 02:00

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Runners make their way through the borough of Manhattan during the New York City Marathon in New York on November 3, 2013

Order was restored when 50,000 people ran through the streets of New York on Sunday morning. The 34th New York marathon was a defiant occasion – weather had halted last year's running and two brothers had planted bombs at the finish line of the Boston marathon in April.

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Runners were delighted to take to the streets, but as ever, in America, the security state responded in force. Gun-boats flanked ferries carrying runners from Manhattan to the starting line in Staten Island.

Runners passed through metal detectors before entering the race pavilion. 1,500 cameras were erected across the city. Security checkpoints ensured that crowds were sparse when runners slogged through those final gruelling metres.

No one wants a re-run to the tragic scenes from Boston last spring, but it's disappointing to see one of the world's great marathons overrun by security.

Marathons are, by design, anarchic events. To overwhelm a marathon with security – even when it's in the best interest of the runners and spectators – is to take from the spirit of it.

DM

Irish Independent

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