Spotlight on the Sport: NCS4

Scott Bush, Running USA
Running USA
November 22, 2017

Making safety and security a top priority for all race directors


Dr. Lou Marciani - NCS4Whether it be dealing with extreme weather, violent actions taken against runners or spectators or relationships with local law enforcement and medical officials, safety and security is a big topic of discussion in the running industry. Leading that discussion, the National Center for Spectators Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) is working with race directors to tackle such issues.


We recently caught up with Dr. Lou Marciani, Director of NCS4, discussing a host of safety and security issues, how the sport is evolving in being prepared for worst case scenarios, how the upcoming National Marathon and Running Events Safety and Security Conference will unfold and much more.


Running USA (RUSA): The National Marathon and Running Events Safety and Security Conference is right around the corner. Why should race directors attend, no matter the size of their event?

Dr. Lou Marciani (LM): It is an annual opportunity for race directors along with their agency partners to gather and discuss the critical safety and security challenges facing the race industry. NCS4 and the advisory committee develop a very comprehensive program focused on the most current safety and security race issues.  This year we will to a deep dive on the following critical challenges. We will look at the Las Vegas incident (elevated attack), Boston Marathon: integrated safety and security planning, managing the mass casualty threat, brining best practices to a local race, weather issues, and national exercise on mass casualty threats.

In addition, the safety and security best practices compliance report will be reported and each attendee will have an opportunity to be an author for the fourth edition of the Marathon Safety and Security Best Practice Guide.


They will have a great chance to network by connecting with their colleagues and discuss solutions to our critical safety and security issues.


RUSA: How has the conference evolved over the past few years and what will be new in 2017?


LM: Yes, after three years we are attracting a more comprehensive group of attendees. We now attract not only race directors but operations, emergency managers, medical personnel and law enforcement personnel. This array of attendees enhances that development of the safety and security best practices.


New this year will be a national exercise on mass casualty threats. We will be preparing race organizers with a better understanding of what to expect for the aftermath: response and recovery. We are beginning to test the use of the safety and security best practices.


National Marathon and Running Events Safety and Security Summit- 2016 AttendeesRUSA: What discussions are you having with race directors and other industry leaders this year that you haven't had in past years?


LM: Each year we make sure that all current safety and security issues and challenges are addressed at the Summit. This year there are three new issues we are discussing. The incident at Las Vegas (elevated attack), how the race industry can be better prepared, managing mass casualties and vehicle borne incidents.


RUSA: With the seeming rise of vehicles being used as weapons to target population centers, what is NCS4 doing on that front to 


LM: NCS4 works with the running industry in studying current safety and security issues. Vehicles being used as weapons are on the forefront of critical concerns.One of the end results of the National Marathon Safety and Security Summit is to enhance best practices. This issue will be discussed and recommendations will come forward to address this issue for the next edition of the best practices.


RUSA: Another area the running industry is feeling the effect is weather-related cancellations. With weather being a safety concern, is there an interest for NCS4 to dive deeper into this topic moving forward?


LM: At this year's Summit, we are dedicating entire panel to the weather issue. We will dive deeper into this topic and hope recommendations will come forward to the next edition of the best practices.


RUSA: With 2018 right around the corner, what's one thing you're excited for with NCS4 in the year ahead?


We are very excited to announce that we are increasing DHS/FEMA sports security training to the sport organizations. We will be offering Sport Risk Management and Sport Evacuation Training to marathons programs. These are two day courses focus on enhancing multi-agency approach to safety and security for their events.  


Editor's note: To apply for this special two-day course, please visit:


RUSA: If you had to share one thing with race directors on the state of safety and security of running events, what would that be?


LM: On a very positive note, NCS4 is witnessing a transformation of a more comprehensive strategy to safety and security within the running industry. The third year compliance report on the safety and security best practices indicated a significant multi-agency approach to the events. This means that our race directors are reaching out to federal, state and local agencies to assist with maintaining a safe environment.


On a cautious note, we have shared some key considerations to address in planning for their next race events:


  • Event organizers will need to remain aware of the evolving terrorism threat and ensure mitigating strategies are in place.
  • Improved race course design and security will continue to inhibit attackers from gaining access to race course.
  • Continued assessment and improvement of race course physical security, procedures and crowd control measures will increase financial and logistical challenges for event planners and organizers.
  • Heightened security at high-profile sporting events will become standard procedure.
  • Paradoxically, increased race course security will present attractive terrorist targets as potential target locations expand into areas around the course where large crowds gather, particularly on approach the the course and at nearby transport hubs.
  • Corporations and individuals attending high-profile sporting events will need to be more conscious of their own security due to the additional pressures upon public resources, taking into consideration incident managment and emergency response planning.


To learn more about NCS4, please visit Additionally, we encourage all race directors to downloadNCS4's free Marathon and Running Events Safety & Security Best Practices Guide, as well as apply for NCS4's two-day safety training program

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