By Stacie Spring
Saturday’s Pat’s Run, held in honor for former Army ranger and former Arizona State University football player Pat Tillman, may carrry special significance this year in the wake of the Boston Marathon finish line bombings Monday.
“Most people seem to be really supportive and are finding (Pat’s Run) to have even more real meaning,” said Lindsay Hansen, a Pat Tillman Foundation spokeswoman. “A lot of runners are posting on Facebook to wear red socks or yellow shoelaces to honor them.”
On Monday, two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon — investigators said Tuesday the explosions were the result of pressure-cooker bombs in backpacks — resulted in the three deaths and injuries to more than 170 others.
No suspects had been identified as of late-afternoon Tuesday, and no group had taken claim for the bombings.
In Tempe on Saturday, there will be a moment of silence in honor of those killed and injured in the Boston attack at the beginning of the Pat’s Run race, Hansen said.
With as many as 28,000 participants on the 4.2 mile course, Pat’s Run has a higher density of people on the course than the finish line at the Boston Marathon; Tempe Police are matching concerns about a similar event with additional officers, units and resources.
“The course will stay the same, with a heightened amount of police officers,” said Sgt. Michael Pooley, Tempe police spokesman. “We are going to have additional security.”
Currently, additional officers from Chandler Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will be in attendance, Pooley said. Other departments have offered additional resources and personnel, which, depending on the needs of Tempe Police, may be used.
“There are no credible threats at this time,” Pooley said, assuring that all potential threats are being monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. “But we prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”
Outside of the extra officers, the police department will have bomb-sniffing dogs monitoring the event, Pooley said.
The foundation, which puts on the charitable event, stated in a press release Tuesday, “Our protocols are being constantly reviewed and modified as needed to ensure the safety of all in attendance.”
Mesa resident Kim Schilens will race in her first Pat’s Run Saturday.
Schilens said though she heard much about the Boston attacks Monday, she didn’t think about safety concerns at Pat’s Run until she heard radio reports Tuesday morning.
“It wasn’t my first thought,” she said. But, she added, she understands the concerns because of the nature of the way the events are put together.
But it’s not going to stop her from participating.
“I’m excited to do it. I’ve always wanted to do it,” she said. “I think it’s inspiring to know people are doing it for all different reasons. ... the excitement of it all brings the community together to do this event and for such a wonderful cause.”
Outside of additional official security, police are requesting participants and spectators to be vigilant.
“Officers will be especially suspicious of any unusual activity and we hope the public will also be extra suspicious,” Pooley said.
Any suspicious activity, packages or people should be reported to officers or personnel immediately, Pooley said.
Gov. Jan Brewer said the incident in Boston has some lessons for Arizona.
“I think it reminds all of us that we certainly have to be aware of our surroundings,” she said. “We have to be cautious and know what’s going on, and that we take every kind of procedure that we feel is necessary.”
But the governor said that does not mean cancelling events out of fear.
“We don’t give up,” she said.
“We still enjoy our beautiful state,’’ Brewer said. “We still enjoy our events and move on.”
Additionally, the police department is requesting that runners at Pat’s Run limit the number of backpacks and bags they bring to the event, Pooley said said. “If you’re coming in a group, try to bring just one backpack for the group.
“Make sure to bring enough water, but limit the number of bags you bring them in,” he added.
Initial reports out of Boston are that the bombs were put in backpacks that were dumped into trash cans.
“We don’t want the public to be afraid of this. We want to let the community know they have our support,” Pooley said. “We want people to enjoy themselves and support the memory of what Pat Tillman left.”
Since it began in 2005, Pat’s Run takes place each year to honor Tillman, a U.S. Army Corporal who was killed by friendly-fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Participants run or walk the 4.2 mile course through Tempe, ending at the 42 yard line in Sun Devil Stadium — Tillman’s home field while playing football for ASU and the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. While with ASU, Tillman wore the number 42 on his jersey.
“As is the case every year, the Pat Tillman Foundation wants to ensure that the 9th annual Pat’s Run continues to be a safe and inspiring event for all our runners, their supporters and the local Tempe community as we come together to honor Pat Tillman’s legacy of leadership, service and action,” the foundation added in Tuesday’s press release.
• Michelle Reese of the Tribune and Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services contributed to this story.
What: 4.2 mile run/walk to benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation’s Tillman Military Scholars program, which helps provide college scholarships to veterans.
When: 7 a.m. Saturday, April 20
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, 219 Packard Drive, Tempe
Late registration: Wednesday to Friday, space permitting
Contact writer: (480) 898-5645 or firstname.lastname@example.org