Allentown police want public to enjoy St. Luke's Half Marathon but avoid paranoia

Police urge awareness in wake of Boston tragedy.

The terrible tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon less than two weeks ago is still fresh on our minds, but it's not a reason to give into the threat of terror when it comes to our sporting events, according to local officials.

"There is a delicate balance between paranoia and being aware of your surroundings and things that don't feel right or are suspicious,' said Joe Hanna, the assistant chief of police for the Allentown Police Department.

"We encourage the public not to be paranoid. Enjoy the event. Be aware, the same thing we tell people about crime prevention. You always need to be aware of your surroundings. If someone is acting suspicious or you see a bag or package unattended, we want to know about it."

The Allentown police will be on heightened alert this weekend with the St. Luke's Half Marathon and 5K on Sunday, and for the kids fun run and runner's expo on Saturday.

Hanna offered some very simple strategies for enjoying the festivities without becoming too paranoid. While he's not a hunter, he likened a deer's awareness of hunters in the woods to those of the public in search of suspicious behavior and items.

"Depending on the weather, if you see someone overdressed for the type of day, that's something we want to know," he said. "When we have unfortunate tragedies like in Boston where people are killed, maimed and injured, we learn from them. As much as we want the world to be safe, sometimes we get lulled into a false sense of reality of it being safe. We always need to be vigilant."

While he couldn't go into specific details about security for the event, Hanna said there will be an increased police presence over the weekend as well as increased non-police security. Suspicious packages or behavior should be reported to those officials.

In the absence of officials, Hanna recommended people call the non-emergency police number 610-437-7751. He cautioned the public to use 911 only in the case of true emergencies.

Neal Novak of the Lehigh Valley Road Runners, the organization that coordinates the St. Luke's event, said that the group's free 5K running series in the Lehigh Parkway begins Wednesday, May 8, and anyone who shows up is encouraged to donate some kind of a fee. The club will match the total collected and donate it to The One Fund Boston to help the victims of the terrorist attack. St. Luke's will be selling running shirts for $10 at this Saturday's race expo with proceeds going to the same cause.

Meanwhile, the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown is holding its first event of the season, the 2013 Spring Velofest, on Saturday, May 4, and VPCC executive director Marty Nothstein urges the same type of vigilance from the public.

The VPCC, known as the mecca of track cycling, installed surveillance cameras last year and Nothstein said talks have begun regarding security in advance of the international professional World Series of Bicycling that begins on June 7.

"We're a very small, intimate venue and many of our patrons know each other, so it's hard for people to hide," Nothstein said. "We hold a maximum of about 5,000 people, not hundreds of thousands like the Boston Marathon, the Olympics, the Super Bowl or the World Series."

He also said that the state police and Upper Macungie police are always notified when the venue expects bigger crowds, and that the two police departments are in close proximity to the facility and have been good neighbors and partners.

Spring Velofest is Saturday, May 4: Some of the best deals you can get on cycling and running gear to kick off your spring/summer workout season will be available during the 2013 Spring VeloFest 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the VPCC.

"This is our warm-up event," Nothstein said. "Our Fall VeloFest is the biggest in the country, but the spring one is great, especially if you're looking to get ready for spring and summer fitness. I've even seen people walk away with skis."

Nothstein said that more than 200 vendors are signed up for the event, which draws about 3,000 people, and there is still vendor space available.

"If you want to clean out your garage or basement of old bikes and fitness equipment, this is the place to sell it because thousands of people are looking to buy," he said.

Nothstein called the Spring VeloFest an ideal time to mingle, see what's new and get excited about cycling and fitness. He also said that Rodale's organic menu will be available at the café, and Clover Hill Winery and Victory Brewing will be on hand, as well as the Bud Light girls.

Jacobsburg nature try-athlon: Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center is hosting three consecutive Saturdays of fun, fitness and learning in May, not just about fitness, but about the outdoors.

Rodale, Inc. is helping to lead the action by providing experts to help lead the various programming, which kicks off 9 a.m. Saturday, May 4, from the Henry's Woods parking lot with a Mountain Bike Clinic led by Bicycling magazine articles editor Lou Mazzante. He will lead a clinic on the basics of mountain biking, including proper gear, etiquette and the keys to safe and successful rides before leading a ride on the beautiful trails through the diverse habitat at Jacobsburg. Participants need a bike in working order, a helmet and a spare inner tube. This program costs $20 and is limited to 20 people.

At 9 a.m., Saturday May, 11, you can do a Workout for the Birds at the Education Pavilion with Budd Coates, Rodale's director of health and fitness. He will lead you through a workout using bags of bird seed as resistance. After the workout, staff members at Jacobsburg will do a program on songbird banding with a live demonstration. Cost of the program is two 10-pound bags of bird seed that will be donated to the park. This program is also limited to 20 people.

Finally, at 9 a.m. on May 18 from the Henry's Woods parking lot, Runner's World senior editor Jeff Dengate will lead a trail running clinic. Dengate is the magazine's shoe guru, and will explain the basics and benefits of trail running while offering tips on proper gear selection. Afterward, he'll lead a run through the wooded hillsides, canopied creeks and wildflower field that make Jacobsburg such a unique natural wonder. This program costs $20 and is limited to 20 people.

Advance registration is required. Register by calling Rob at 6190-746-2805.