Days after a terrorist bombing killed three and injured more than 150 at the historic Boston Marathon, Jackson marathon runner and race organizer John Sewell says runners will band and bond together in the coming weeks to overcome the “terrible tragedy.”
“When you think about a crowd of people out on a beautiful spring day to watch one of the greatest athletic events in the world (and) in the matter of an instant its totally shattered… as a parent my heart breaks for the family that lost their son,” Sewell tells the MBJ.
The spokesman for the 26-mile Mississippi Blues Marathon, the state’s largest running event, says the Jackson marathon draws runners from around the country and world just like the Boston Marathon.
Registration for the 2014 race was announced this week for the race which has been sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi since its founding in 2008.
More than 3,000 runners from 46 states and ten countries registered for this year’s event which was held last January.
Sewell said security has always been a part of the race from guarding on-site equipment at the start and finish lines to working with Jackson and Hinds County law enforcement officers to protect runners and spectators during the event.
“Our number-one concern is runner safety,” says Sewell. “We have a course marshal at every intersection to watch traffic and watch over runners. We want to do everything within our power to make sure that the Blues Marathon is a safe event for runners and spectators.”
Sewell has run the Country Music Marathon in Nashville and the Georgia Marathon in Atlanta and says that races like that with crowds of 15 to 20,000 people make it difficult for organizers to handle logistics. “The challenges multiply exponentially,” he says.
Sewell adds that one could never predict something like a terrorist bombing and that he hopes and prays nothing like that would ever happen again even as he begins to prepare for next year’s marathon.
“You try to do everything you can to be prepared. Will we think about it… sure,” he says.
Part of the preparation for any race always includes having medical personnel to deal with everything from racing injuries or heat exhaustion.
Sewell said Jackson cardiologist Rick Guynes has served as the medical director for the race and that he was helping out at the Boston Marathon at the time of the bombing.
“We knew that the folks on the scene had one of the state’s best physicians helping them,” he says.