SBD/April 17, 2013/Events and Attractions

Boston Marathon Bombings: BAA Vows '14 Event Will Be Run As Scheduled

BAA organizers have given runners a deferral option twice in the last three years
The Boston Athletic Association yesterday vowed that the Boston Marathon "will be held as scheduled next year," according to John Powers of the BOSTON GLOBE. BAA Exec Dir Tom Grilk in a statement said, "The Boston Marathon is a deeply held tradition -- an integral part of the fabric and history of our community." It was unclear whether the "thousands of entrants who were prevented from finishing the race would be offered a place in next year's race without having to qualify again." Grilk said, "We certainly will address those issues and all of the other issues that will come up with the utmost care. Today is not the day for that." Powers notes BAA organizers twice in the last three years have "given runners a deferral option." Following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland in '10, there were "mass flight cancellations during the days preceding the race." That led to several hundred int'l runners being "offered a place in the 2011 event based on their original seeding times." Due to a "scorching heat forecast for race day" last year, runners who "picked up their bib numbers were granted the option of competing this year instead, but only 427 of the 26,716 entrants did so." However, the BAA "never has had to deal with entry decisions in the wake of a race that was stopped hours after it began." Of the 23,326 official starters, 17,584 "had crossed the finish line on Boylston Street just before Copley Square when timing was stopped at 2:57 p.m." Runners who "picked up their personal effects Tuesday were given medals whether or not they'd completed the race" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/17).

SECURITY STAYED AT HIGH LEVEL: In Boston, Estes, Cramer & Springer in a front-page piece note the city's "detailed security plan" for Monday's marathon shows the "same all-out mobilization of officers, bomb-sniffing dogs and explosives specialists as was in place for last year’s race, an indication that the intensity of security preparedness has remained at a high pitch." State and local authorities this year "took extensive measures to protect hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators -- including the deployment of air patrols, K-9 units, and more than 1,000 uniformed officers and soldiers along the 26-mile course and the finish line." In Boston alone, there were "824 officers and civilians scheduled to work on Marathon day." That is a 6% increase from '12. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said that dogs "swept the area for explosives twice before the first runners crossed the finish line." Other state and local agencies also "insisted they had even stronger measures in place this year than they had in past years." Former Boston Police Commissioner Paul Evans said that it is "impossible to prevent a terrorist attack without changing what makes the Boston Marathon the Boston Marathon." Evans: "If you want a secure environment, you don’t have any spectators. And that’s not what Boston is about." Davis noted that some security measures "are simply impractical." He said, "We consider all options but the problem with metal detectors is that they are only good in areas that are controlled and you can’t control something 26 miles long." Estes, Cramer & Springer note the next "major running event on the Boston-area race calendar is the James Joyce Ramble, a 10K that will take place in Dedham on April 28." Even before the Boston Marathon bombings, Ramble organizers had "planned to have increased security at its postrace party, and now they are considering more security measures along the course" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/17).

FOCUSING IN ON SAFETY: In Chicago, Hersh, Bowean & Heinzmann report Chicago Marathon Race Dir Carey Pinkowski believes it is "possible to provide security over such a vast footprint" as the race's 26.2-mile course. Pinkowski said, "I would like to say we could. We can use our best efforts and all the resources we have. Security has always been a main focus of what we do." He added that existing procedures for Chicago's race "have placed a heavy emphasis on security around the start ... and finish." Spectators "aren't allowed into the area around the finish line until a half-hour after the race starts." Pinkowski said that non-credentialed spectators are "not allowed in a secured area around the finish." He added that in the past, the "major areas of concern have been road safety along the course and managing the sheer size of the event -- this year's marathon quickly drew 45,000 entries." Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday pledged that the Bank of America Chicago Marathon "will go on as scheduled but said he wants to see more about what happened in Boston before deciding whether changes need to be made." Meanwhile, Hersh, Bowean & Heinzmann note the Chicago Marathon does "not have a designated security director." Pinkowski in the "contact with the Chicago police and other city agencies, while the race's operations director deals with contracted security" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/17).
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