Security increased at Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run
MIAMI (WSVN) -- The annual Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run in Miami stepped up security to avoid another tragedy like the one in Boston.
Thousands of runners paused for a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston bombings before the race kicked off Thursday afternoon.
Event officials said no bags would be allowed for racers. "We are asking people not to bring backpacks or duffel bags to the event," said Corporate Run director Hans Huseby.
Organizers of the event met with police and made the decision in light of last week's Boston Marathon bombings. "It's something that we can all go along with, and there's some simple ideas that you can follow just to comply with Miami PD's request," Huseby said.
Richard Lara, who ran in the event with other members of his law firm Mase Lara Eversole, wondered whether the Corporate Run would even happen after the terror attacks in Boston. "[I asked], 'Should we even go? What's going to happen to the run? Is this something that's too dangerous to go to?'" he said.
Huseby said, "We got the OK from Miami PD, that yes, we can go on as scheduled. I was very, very happy, because it told me they felt they could keep us safe, and that's a big deal."
Lara said the Corporate Run's no-bags policy may be the new way of life from this point forward. "I think that, unfortunately, on the one hand, you have to give up the liberties that you used to enjoy in order to meet the challenges of this new world where danger can meet you at your doorstep," he said.
The Miami Police Department had an emergency monitoring center in Downtown Miami with closed circuit cameras at the event.
Miami Fire Department Lt. Ignatius Carroll said, "Also, they will be monitoring social media to see if there is anything that is being tweeted or Facebooked about the event that is taking place."
Officers from the Regional Response Team that covers Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties staffed the race and had HAZMAT equipment and tents in case the worst were to happen.
Although staff asked race goers not to bring bags or duffle bags, some still did. But, runners said, just by being there they are making a statement.
Runner Slim Richardson said, "You don't want to limit yourself or live in fear. When you live in fear they win, you know. So, the more people that show up and show support, it's going to let them know that we are not going anywhere and we're gonna be here."
Runner Alex Mesa added, "Cause everybody has to stick together and fight this and show these people that we are not scared of them."
The race, known as the largest 5K in the Southeast, started at 6:30 p.m. at Bayfront Park. The route that the runners took through Downtown Miami resulted in traffic delays and several road closures.
Even though organizers didn't allow large bags at the event, they said participants were free to store bottled water and additional clothing items in clear plastic storage bags.
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