Faced with enormous security challenges after last year’s Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association and Boston Police announced plans on Wednesday to enforce new security measures. Police expect a record number of spectators to line the route to watch the Marathon, one year after the deadly bombings near the finish line killed three people and left more than 260 injured.
The BAA issued a “no bags” policy for runners and provided a list of allowed and prohibited items they can bring with them to the starting line in Hopkinton. In the past, the BAA provided bags for the runners that they could bring to the starting line and then pick up at the finish line. Now runners can only wear small fanny packs, only big enough to carry items like identification, food, medicine, cell phones, or keys. Standard fuel belts are permitted, but bottles must be one liter maximum.
The long list of items that are not allowed (which can be found BAA website) includes backpacks, handbags, glass containers, personal hydration systems, weight vests (except for lightweight running vests), costumes covering the face, and props, like signs or flags over 11 x 17 inches.
Any gear or change of clothes the runners would like at the end of the race can be checked by BAA at Boston Common before the race and placed in a clear plastic bag, provided by BAA. If the runners wear extra layers of clothing to the starting line and decide to shed some layers, the BAA will collect the clothes and donate them to charity.
The BAA has also required runners to pick up their own bib numbers. Friends or family will not be allowed to claim bib numbers. Also, the bib number must be visible at all times, from the transportation to Hopkinton, to the finish area in Boston. The BAA has asked those who do not have official numbers stay off the Marathon route or they will be removed. They recognize that a lot of runners may want to join the race in an effort to show support but this is discouraged by the BAA for the safety of the official runners.
There are also changes to the finish area, where participants meet up with family and friends. Further details are forthcoming.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans also introduced new security measures to be enforced at this year’s Boston Marathon. Expecting the final blocks of the race to be a packed crowd, he said that Newbury Street will be closed to cars and that police officers will line Boylston Street, where the race finishes, and redirect those heading to the finish line to make their way by side streets. Though Evans assured the people that it would not resemble a police state. There will not be any officers in body armor or carrying large firearms. “We want the Boston Marathon to be what it’s always been: a family event,” he said.
In addition to bomb-sniffing dogs and undercover police, Evans said that anyone carrying large bags or backpacks would be subject to search on Boylston Street, as well as in Kenmore Square, Audobon Circle, and Cleveland Circle.
There was one more special announcement this week regarding Dick Hoyt, the 73-year-old Boston Marathon favorite who runs the race while pushing his son, Rick, who is wheelchair-bound and suffers from cerebral palsy. The duo have run for the past 31 years and planned to make the 2013 race their last, but after they were stopped around the 25-mile marker last year because of the bombings they are in it for one last race. “We will be out there, we will get across it this year, and it’s going to be very emotional,” Hoyt said.
The Boston Marathon’s new security measures are not only in response to last year’s tragedy, but also due to projections of 1 million spectators lining the route and around 36,000 runners, which is about 9,000 more than last year’s field. The 4,000 runners who were stopped prior to finishing last year are included in the total.
By David Tulis