9,000+ compete in CDPHP Workforce Challenge

Posted at: 05/16/2013 10:15 PM
Updated at: 05/16/2013 11:54 PM
By: WNYT Staff

ALBANY - Just over 9,000 runners took part in the the 34th annual CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge Thursday night in downtown Albany.

Alex Leuchanka, 21, a former University at Albany track and field standout, was the first male to cross the finish line in 17:33 minutes.

Kristina Gracey, a resident in family practice and part of the Albany Medical Center team ,was the first female finisher in 20:50.

Four hundred fifty organizations competed.

One month and a day after the Boston Marathon bombings, security in downtown Albany was beefed up significantly for the race and thousands of Capital Region residents were there to experience the impactful aftermath of Boston.

What was seen in downtown Albany Thursday night was just the start, but not the start of another road race. It was the start of seeing new public security measures that all Americans will now be living with.

"We don't have any credible threats," said Albany police spokesman Steve Smith. "But the important thing is to be vigilant. Not just law enforcement. We're asking everyone here to be vigilant."

Along with the vigilance came bomb-sniffing dogs and bicycle-riding and horse mounted police. There were barriers along much of the race course. There were police at nearly every street corner. Backpacks and coolers were prohibited.

"We've seen half the Albany Police Department out today so I feel very safe," said Robert Shoss, a runner from Albany.

"I just feel a lot safer now that they're making sure no one brings backpacks or anything like that," said Jessica Dunton, also an Albany resident. "I love running. I've been running my whole life. I don't want to worry about it."

"There's a lot of security and what also makes me feel secure is that they did catch the two at the Boston Marathon," said Wendy Dawkins of Albany. "If they had not caught them I'd be nervous that anyone who was perpetrating anything would say, "They didn't catch them, they won't catch us."

Race director Mark Warner says Boston appears to have had little if any affect on the number of runners in this year's event, still more than 9,000 strong.

"I think most people realize the risk is low, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't be aware of it," Warner asserted.

Leslie Forbert Miller of Saratoga Springs was running to honor her son, Pfc. David Taylor Miller, killed in action in Afghanistan in July 2010 and now buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

"I think one of the most important things as Americans is to step out, to be in public, to show no fear for anything in our own country," Forbert Miller opined. "That's what all our guys are fighting for in Afghanistan and all the wars have been about. If we can't get out here and enjoy it and be part of our country, what's the point?"

Even though Albany police stood ready to search every person if necessary, it never came to that. Virtually everyone seen by NewsChannel 13 Thursday night heeded the police warning and left their backpacks behind.