The detonation of bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon has drawn the attention, but not the panic, of organizers of the Arkansas Marathon, which is held in October in Booneville.
"We always keep stuff like this in mind, but we’re not going to dwell on it or lose sleep over it," said Stacey McCollough of the Booneville Development Corporation/South Logan County Chamber of Commerce, the organization responsible for hosting the Arkansas Marathon.
McCollough said last week he suspects the bombs in Boston weren’t aimed at the race, or even the town.
"It was at a populated event, and one that is well covered," said McCollough. "Think about it, if you put a bomb in a trash can at a spectator area of the finish line of a marathon, what’s your potential?"
Pulling off something like that here, where the marathon ends at the junior high school, would probably prove difficult, McCollough said.
"You’re talking about a much more crowded place (in Boston). And I think people here are a lot more aware of what’s going on around them," said McCollough. "When you’re in a large town, you’re around so many people, so much of the time one person in not necessarily going to stand out.
"Here, I think there is a much better chance of standing out."
But, he admits, it only takes one.
"You always have to be aware of the person that is not exactly on a balanced level," said McCollough, before quoting the film, In the Line of Fire. "Anybody can shoot the president at any time, all he’s got to do is be willing to trade his life."
Because the Arkansas Marathon is a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon, a half dozen finishers here were qualified to run in, arguably, the most famous marathon of them all on Patriot’s Day.
By Tuesday afternoon, McCollough had already checked with two of the qualifiers to find they were not in Boston last Monday and he said he was relieved when he read reports indicating all Arkansas runners were unharmed by the blasts.
Besides the perspective of being a race organizer, McCollough also has the perspective of working towards a master’s degree in emergency management.
While there were three deaths reported and over 180 injuries, many severe, McCollough said an incident like this one probably had other goals.
Still, McCollough says, that may not have been the primary goal for Boston.
"Bombers do things for a reason," said McCollough. "If they’re wanting to cause sheer panic, they’re not necessarily looking for body count as they’re looking for impact.
"Body count is a good thing for them, but impact — they’d rather blow up a bridge on national television than blow up rush hour traffic, if it gets them on TV," said McCollough.
One alleged bomber was killed in a shootout with police Friday. A second is in custody, but serious condition, according to published reports.