How ISC East Keynote Speaker Ted Metellus Secures the New York City Marathon

Metellus, race director for the iconic marathon, discusses how road race security has changed since COVID-19 and the role of public-private partnerships in hosting a successful event.

ISC East 2021 is coming up Nov. 17-18 in New York City, and the Security Industry Association (SIA) and ISC East recently revealed full conference details for the SIA Education@ISC East program, including keynote presentations from top luminaries and 20+ sessions on the most current business trends, technologies and industry developments.

SIA is looking forward to the Day 1 keynote session – TCS New York City Marathon: Insights on Race Operations, Public Safety and Integrated Security Solutions. A year after canceling the 2020 race because of the coronavirus pandemic, New York Road Runners (NYRR), the nonprofit organization that puts on the TCS New York City Marathon, will return to commemorate the race’s 50th running. In pre-pandemic years, the iconic New York sporting event attracts 53,000 runners from across the globe, making it the largest marathon in the world.

The challenge of securing a 26.2-mile cityscape road race requires extensive planning, training and collaboration among event operators, public safety departments, private business owners and community partners and other event stakeholders.

In this keynote session, Ted Metellus, vice president of events at NYRR and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon, and Todd Metro, head of safety and security at NYRR, will share insights on effectively managing safety and security operations for the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon.

In this Q&A, SIA spoke with Metellus about leading road race security during the COVID-19 pandemic and the effective public-private partnerships that contribute to a safe and successful event.

Metellus first joined NYRR in 2001 as an event manager and has served in a variety of leadership roles since then. In February 2021, he was named the race director of the TCS New York City Marathon, the first-ever Black race director of an Abbott World Marathon Majors race. Metellus plays a significant role in managing NYRR’s 50+ races each year, overseeing and enhancing start, course and finish operations, safety and security, medical teams, staffing and volunteers, youth events, experiential events and warehouse operations. His event leadership role spans from the TCS New York City Marathon, the world’s largest marathon, and Brooklyn Half, the nation’s largest half marathon, to weekly 5K and one-mile races across New York City’s five boroughs and New Jersey. Additionally, he serves as the organization’s key liaison with New York City agencies and partners, a crucial relationship for NYRR throughout the year to hold its events in the city’s parks and streets.

A Bronx native, Metellus grew up running in New York City and was a member of his high school track and cross-country teams. He graduated from the State University of New York College at Oswego with a B.A. in public relations and communications. He lives in Manhattan and has run 33 half marathons, as well as the New York City Marathon in 2008 and 2013.

What are some of the biggest challenges involved in securing the iconic TCS New York City Marathon?

Ted Metellus: Health and safety are always New York Road Runners’ top priorities across all our events and programs, including the TCS New York City Marathon. The marathon is a unique event in that it spans 26.2 miles across all five boroughs of the city, meaning the city is our venue. Through our partnership with the city and the state of New York, we can ensure a safe event for all participants, volunteers and staff. We work closely together with city and state officials to determine an appropriate field size of runners and race logistics, and with a team of medical experts to ensure proper health and safety protocols are implemented for all involved. We are also in constant contact with our partners at the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department to ensure a safe and secure event experience for everyone.

How has your approach changed for the 2021 marathon in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what are some of the things your team has been doing to enhance health and life safety protocols and emergency preparedness at the race?

TM: During the pandemic, since September 2020, NYRR has been safely producing more than 25 road races and events by effectively implementing health and safety protocols. For the TCS New York City Marathon, NYRR is implementing extensive protocols to ensure a safe and world-class experience. Safety protocols are being employed throughout the entire event – from runners picking up their bibs to the start, running on course and crossing the finish line. Guidelines were established in collaboration with city, state and federal guidelines and under the guidance of medical and public health experts. Health and safety guidelines include but are not limited to face coverings, vaccinations and testing, density reduction, limiting touchpoints, hand sanitizing stations and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols.

What role do public-private partnerships play in the safety and success of this event?

TM: Our partnerships with the city and state are necessary and critical to the success of both the TCS New York City Marathon and all our events throughout the year. Together with the city and state of New York and all our city agency partners, we are able to put on safe and successful events for thousands of runners of all ages and abilities, transforming lives through the power of running. Additionally, our partnership with NYC Parks, which have served as an oasis in New York during the pandemic, was instrumental in keeping our events going during the most challenging times.

The ISC East Day 1 Keynote featuring Ted Metellus and Todd Metro will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 2:00 p.m. on the show’s main stage. You can access the full SIA Education@ISC conference program for only $75 by registering for a 2-day conference pass here. And don’t forget to use SIA’s free registration link to sign up for the ISC East trade show.