The New York Police Department plans to beef up security along the 26.2-mile course, which winds through the city's five boroughs. But the finish line has become perhaps the biggest worry after two homemade bombs detonated near the finish line in Boston, killing three people and injuring more than 260.
"It will be tight," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said recently when asked about the race's finish area in Central Park. "It always is tight, but obviously we're going to pay particular attention to that this year."
About 45,000 runners participate in the marathon.
The NYPD bought 100 mobile security cameras in the wake of the Boston attack. Those will be positioned to keep an eye out for anything suspicious along the route in places where there are gaps in the sight-line of permanent cameras, police said.
Hundreds of police officers will be posted along the route; police helicopters will patrol the skies, and police boats will keep watch from New York Harbor and the East River. As with any large-scale event in the city, the department will also deploy bomb-sniffing dogs and plainclothes officers whose job is to blend in with the crowd.
"I think we've got a sound plan, but it always requires some adjustments, and that's what we're in the process of doing now," Kelly said.
Marathon organizer New York Road Runners has said organizers considered banning bags from the bleachers around the finish area, but ruled it out as impractical because spectators needed to carry clothing and provisions for themselves and the runners they plan to meet afterward.
Instead, they're encouraging spectators to bring only one bag per person, no larger than the size of a purse. Spectators also can expect to encounter barriers around the finish line, with entry only through checkpoints where bags will be searched. Similar checkpoints will be set up elsewhere along the route.