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500 Festival Mini-Marathon preps for storms, winds

May 3, 2012

Organizers of the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon have taken extra steps to keep participants and spectators safe if the weather turns dangerous on Saturday.

Race organizers revamped their severe weather plan following the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair last August that killed seven people and injured dozens of others, WTHR-TV reported Thursday.

For the first time ever, the National Weather Service will have representatives on site monitoring conditions for the 35,000 participants and tens of thousands of volunteers and spectators along the 13.1 mile route from downtown Indianapolis to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and back.

"(Safety) is our number one priority. We want our participants to have fun and have it be a competitive race," 500 Festival spokesperson Megan Bulla said. "That's a lot of people we're responsible for, and we want to make sure are safe that day."

There's a 30 percent chance of storms between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday. The race begins at 7:30 a.m.

If lightning is spotted, the course could be black-flagged and participants and others evacuated to safe locations such as parking garages.

No one, however, will be evacuated to any temporary tents. In the event of high winds, the tents will be evacuated and dismantled.

All staff and planning committee members will have a copy of the severe weather plan. They'll be wearing polo shirts emblazoned with min-marathon markings. The race also will place staff throughout the course with bullhorns to keep runners and walkers informed.

Organizers already have sent participants a warning about the chance for storms Saturday.

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