1986 Boston winner: Don’t let terror stop racing
BRISBANE, Australia — Former champion Robert de Castella says race organizers around the world should not “kowtow” to terrorist threats by scaling back events in the wake of bomb blasts Monday which killed three people and injured more than 140 at the Boston Marathon.
De Castella, an Australian who won the 1986 Boston title, was close to the finishing area Monday waiting for one of his athletes when the explosions occurred.
“I am of the view that the last thing we should do is kowtow to this sort of coward action, and (should) continue to do what we always have done,” de Castella told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio from Boston.
“If it is an act of terrorism, then obviously these things are designed to disrupt people’s participation in events like this and I think that is exactly what they are trying to achieve.”
De Castella is a popular figure and coach in Australia, where the midyear climate and environment are ideal for distance running.
The City to Surf run in Sydney — from downtown Sydney to Bondi Beach in the city’s eastern suburbs — annually attracts about 85,000 runners.
New South Wales state Premier Barry O’Farrell said Tuesday that although security was constantly being monitored, he ruled out any changes to the iconic race after the Boston bombings.
“These are public events, the last thing you want to do is make them so restrictive the public can’t participate,” O’Farrell said. “Not only would that mean future Boston Marathons, future City to Surfs, were not of the same character, it would actually give a win to those people who engage in those sort of acts of violence.”
Gold Coast Marathon general manager Cameron Hart says local organizers have a rigid plan for its July 7 race, expected to attract 30,000 competitors in Australia’s Queensland state.
“It is a public event, and by its very nature not held in a stadium or amphitheater,” Hart told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “The very fabric of having the runners go past public areas means it’s something that is impossible to lock down.”
“We already have a high level of security at our finish line, as have most major events since 9-11,” added Hart. “We have private security firms working for us, police dogs and other security efforts. I believe we are quite prepared to find and detect something in advance. We have a well-rehearsed emergency plan, and always, a heightened level of awareness on race day.”
Still, he said that can’t always prevent terrorists from killing innocent people.
“We are always aware there is an element of risk and duty of care to abide by and while we have a rigid security plan, like any other major event, none of us are immune to the horror that happened in Boston today.”