Carmel Marathon director taking lessons from Boston explosion

Todd Oliver finished the Boston Marathon 15 minutes before the explosion.

The Carmel Marathon is Saturday and thoughts of what happened in Boston will not be far from the minds of organizers.

In fact, race director Todd Oliver ran Boston. He returned to Indianapolis early Tuesday, physically and emotionally exhausted. He crossed the finish line just 15 minutes before the first bomb went off.

"I was changing clothes sitting on the ground and that's when I heard the explosion," Oliver said.

A few blocks from the scene, Oliver wasn't quite sure what was going on.

"I said to the person next to me, 'What did you hear?' and she said 'A bomb.' It just didn't make sense," Oliver said.

Oliver knew he needed to find out more. He hadn't signed up for Boston just to run the marathon.

"I immediately turned into event director mode," he said.

Saturday's Carmel Marathon, the third annual, is expected to draw more than 3,500 runners from 40 states and seven countries. Oliver said he runs other races to learn from them, yet he never expected to see anything like what he saw in Boston.

One of his first calls he made was to the Carmel police lieutenant in charge of race security.

"We knew we had a good plan in place, but I just wanted to make sure he knew what I saw in terms of the command post, medical staffing and ambulances because I thought it would be beneficial for him to have as much information as possible," he said.

Tuesday morning he sent out this email to race participants:

"QUICK UPDATE: All systems are go for Saturday. You have all trained too hard and long to let those involved with the Boston situation get what they want; us to change our daily lives. We are runners and we will run on Saturday for our personal reasons that got us to this point AND NOW for all of our fellow runners and fans in Boston!

Prior to Boston, our plan included 96 police officers and 75 National Guard service men and women on course and on the grounds. We have 20+ Ham Radio operators with special security privileges at every water stop with medical personnel.

We hope to have a special pin to wear in support of Boston at the Expo; stay tuned for more details. Bib number assignments and final instructions will go out today.

We are ready and so are you! We will see you this weekend to finish your goal!"

He also spent a lot of time returning dozens of calls and emails, some people just wanting to thank him for staying committed to the race.

As one runner wrote, "Thank you...Mr. Oliver I feel strongly we should do something to honor Boston. I will be dedicating my 26.2 to those killed and injured."

And instead of dropping out, he said more people were signing up.

"We had a spike in registration today," he said, with runners saying "they want to show support for Boston by participating."

Race for the Cure statement

Organizers of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which also takes place Saturday, sent the following letter to participants Tuesday:

"We join with you in extending our thoughts to the victims, their families and all the first responders who helped at the Boston Marathon. We want to assure you that the safety of our participants has always been foremost in planning for the Race. We have worked closely with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the IUPUI Police Department, public safety officials and emergency services personnel and have an emergency plan in place. We will be guided by public safety officials should any changes be recommended in light of recent events. In addition to security personnel, we have hundreds of volunteers and committee members stationed around the course and in Military Park.

The Race for the Cure is a day to celebrate survivors, honor the memory of loved ones and help raise funds for local services and the research that will ultimately achieve our vision of a world where breast cancer is no longer life-threatening.

We thank you for joining the fight and look forward to seeing you on Saturday!"