Arriving at 5am for a marathon start seemed early and for a bit there was nothing to do. Around 5:30am, after putting small water bottles out on tables, I was given the Warm Zone for my assignment. Runners prepaid $45 for a warm room, food, water/juice, free parking and coveted indoor toilets. It was my job to check everyone's wrist bracelet before letting runners in. And yes, there were many people who wanted in without the bracelet and I got a handful of dirty looks.
A few runners milled around the Warm Zone when it opened at 6am. Out of place though were 4 men in khaki pants, matching shoes, black shirts and guns standing around laughing. Not being shy and wondering what they were doing I approached them. Their humor was dark while they joked they were there to motivated people but had to motivate each other first.
"Really, what are you doing," I asked.
"We're the bomb squad"
I think my jaw dropped some and I looked into the sky, saw the city sky scrapers and it made sense. Thousands of people show up in one location would be a target for some evil person. They told me that all majors marathons have the bomb squad come in and secure the area. I never would have guessed.
Next time you run a major race, take comfort in the fact that a portion of your race fees include handsome men with their bomb sniffing dogs scouring the area so you have a safe race.