NEW YORK — In a city shaken by its deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11, police are promising an unprecedented security effort to try to protect a soft target spanning five boroughs and 26.2 miles: the New York City Marathon.
City officials have sought to calm the nerves of over 50,000 runners and huge crowds of onlookers by insisting it will go off Sunday without a hitch only days after a truck attack killed eight people in lower Manhattan.
The security detail will include hundreds of extra uniformed patrol and plainclothes officers, roving teams of counterterrorism commandos armed with heavy weapons, bomb-sniffing dogs and rooftop snipers poised to shoot if a threat emerges.
The Police Department is also turning to a tactic it has used to protect Trump Tower and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: 16-ton sanitation trucks filled with sand. The trucks, along with “blocker cars,” will be positioned at key intersections to prevent anyone from driving onto the course.
The New York Police Department said it has no information pointing to any credible threat against the race.
There is no question, though, that the course provides a security challenge.
The race starts in a relatively secure location. Runners gather at Staten Island’s Fort Wadsworth, a former military installation now partially occupied by the U.S. Coast Guard.
From there, though, the race heads through residential neighborhoods with hundreds of spots where an attacker could steer a vehicle onto the thickly packed course.
The crowd is so big, runners start in waves, meaning some people will still be standing on the starting line while competitors in the wheelchair division are crossing the finish.
“It will be an extraordinary event, as it always is,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week at a news conference. “It will be well protected, as it always is.”