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Sunday February 7th, 2016 10:05AM

Chicago Marathon kicks off with Boston in mind

By The Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Marathon runners hit the streets Sunday morning, nearly six months after the Boston Marathon bombings, with more police officers lining race routes and spectator areas.

Runners from more than 120 countries and all 50 states observed a moment of silence for the victims and families before the race kicked off. Three people died and more than 260 were injured in the April 15 bombings.

This year's marathon in Chicago is expected to draw 45,000 runners and more than a million spectators. City officials stepped up security, but didn't give many details in the days leading up to the race. However, more than a thousand uniformed and undercover officers, along with far more bomb-sniffing dogs than in years past, were expected to mix with the crowd.

Jo Ann Surman of Chicago wore a Boston Red Sox shirt as she waited for her daughter to finish the marathon.

``I just wanted to put this on today to let other people see that we still think of them,'' she said, referring to the victims and Boston residents in general.

The enhanced security made it more difficult for her to meet her daughter right at the finish line, so she set another meeting spot and didn't mind.

``I have no problem showing bags (at security check points). We have nothing to hide here. We just want people to be safe,'' Surman said.

Heightened security was evident with Homeland Security vehicles parked on a sidewalk on Michigan Avenue near the lakefront and bomb-sniffing police dogs walking the area. City snow removal trucks were repurposed to block closed roadways.

Chicago police spokesman John Mirabelli said Sunday that no problems had been reported.

``Everything is running very smoothly,'' he said. ``Everything is very fluid.''

Spectator Nicole Ioffe of Batavia, Ill., donned a bright green sparkly wig to cheer on her friend, Yvette Fratzke.

Despite the wacky costume, she said thoughts of the Boston bombing aren't far from her mind.

``It made me think twice about coming down here to do this. ... I'm going to this amazing event and I had to worry about something like that happening to innocent people,'' she said Sunday morning after cheering Fratzke at the 2.5-mile mark. ``Life is too short and I can't live in constant fear.''
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