Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In Wake of Boston Tragedy, 500 Festival Mini-Marathon Continues

In the aftermath of this week’s horrific Boston Marathon bombing, large-scale events all over the United States are facing questions in regards to their safety and contingency planning. In Indianapolis, the city is readying to host an influx of visitors for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 4. The event is the largest half-marathon in the U.S., and has been a major lead-in to and part of Indy’s all-important Month of May for over three decades.

In addition to the Mini, the 500 Festival puts on some 50 other events during the month, which reach hundreds of thousands of fans and guests. Activities range from concerts to kids’ festivals. Still, with the Boston Marathon so fresh in everyone’s mind, it is understandable there would be questions specifically regarding the Mini’s safety preparations.

Reached for comment, 500 Festival Communications Manager Megan Bulla confirmed the event is expected to be heavily attended.

“The Mini-Marathon is sold out for the 12th year in a row with 35,000 participants,” verified Bulla.

That’s 35,000 souls and their families likely wondering just what will be in store for them next month. It is a time of uncertainty, but the 500 Festival does have planning in place for these sorts of contingencies.

“Unfortunately we live in a world where these conversations and planning must take place,” Bulla explained. “Our plan covers a variety of scenarios- from weather-related issues to man-made disasters”.

With information coming out of Boston still of an uncertain nature, and specifics still hazy, Bulla said that any amendments to the Festival’s current safety plans are still to come.

“We review our security plan annually for each of our events. No changes have been made in the plan so far. However, as more information becomes available about what happened at the Boston Marathon, we will review to ensure our plan is as updated as possible. The safety of our participants, spectators and volunteers is our upmost concern”.

Indeed, it would appear the 500 Festival and organizers of the Mini are acutely aware of the desire for public reassurance and information. As of Tuesday, their website featured a front page link to a statement which states their “safety and security plan is the result of years of planning and it mirrors that of the 2012 Super Bowl which was put into place prior to last year’s race”.

Ultimately, while the mourning in Boston continues, sports event planners and fans alike are taking stock of their plans and preparations. The 500 Festival and the Mini-Marathon are no exception. It’s natural to be worried or apprehensive in the wake of Boston’s tragedy, but the 500 Festival appears to be taking the calm, measured approach to the situation. The Month of May in Indianapolis and all it entails will proceed, but with caution throughout.

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