Security plan assures families at Illinois Marathon

Published 04/27 2013 02:33PM

Updated 04/29 2013 09:52AM

CHAMPAIGN -- Runners weren't the only ones around every corner this weekend. Beefed up security brought safety to a new level at the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon.

More than 20,000 runners, from all over the world ran throughout Champaign-Urbana. Not too far from their minds, the Boston Marathon bombing that happened just weeks ago. Quick security changes allowed runners and supporters to focus on the race rather than fear.

If you were in this year's marathon, chances are you heard 3-year old Taylor's encouraging chants.

"Last year when I was running. I loved seeing people on the side lines. I think that's what makes this race so much fun," Walker Willis said.

But this year Willis is cheering on his wife with his favorite cheerleaders, daughters Taylor and Lucy.

"You see them light up the second they walk by."

Showing support through signs and cheers, Willis says the Boston bombing would never hold them back.

"We're gonna stand up and say our family is going to be a part of this. As a father of two little girls here, I do like feeling more secure and having that assurance that there are people out here."

New security procedures were brought to life for the event. Family and friends weren't allowed on Memorial Field, bags were held until the end of the race and emergency personnel were at every corner.

"Every time I've walked past a police officer today, I've stopped and said thank you to them," Willis said.

Organizers say they made the changes to be safe rather than sorry and safely is how thousands of runners crossed this finish line with no problems to report.

"We're gonna support these runners. It's a great thing. We can't let something horrible like that stop the good things that people are doing in this community," Willis said.

Organizers say they'll meet soon to determine if they'll keep this year's security changes next year.

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