SBD/February 27, 2014/Events and Attractions

Boston Marathon Organizers Will Have Stricter Security Measures For '14 Race

BAA execs expect 36,000 official runners this year, up from 27,000 in '13
The Boston Athletic Association yesterday announced "tough new security measures" for the '14 Boston Marathon, which will "ban backpacks and a long list of other items," according to McCluskey & Johnson of the BOSTON HERALD. The BAA is "expecting 36,000 official runners this year, up from 27,000 last year." Runners will have to "check any bags at Boston Common in the morning and walk a half mile to retrieve them after the race." Water bottles "larger than 1 liter and CamelBak-style bladders are also banned" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/27). BAA Exec Dir Tom Grilk said the new regulations were "part of a collaborative process with public safety authorities” and Marathon organizers “followed their lead.” In Boston, Shira Springer notes runners' reactions to the restrictions "were mixed." While they "understood the need for tighter security and appreciated the advance notice, some wondered if the new regulations went too far." Participants typically "bring large gear bags to start areas, packing changes of clothing, extra food and liquids, maybe toilet paper, and cellphones, iPods or crossword puzzles to pass the time before the gun goes off." Runners "like being well-prepared and then some" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/27).

SAFETY FIRST: In Boston, Maria Cramer in a front-page piece notes police are "hoping to avoid a crush of spectators who would pack the final blocks" of the race. City officials said that they are "determined to make sure the streets that day do not resemble a police state." Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said, "You’re not going to see guys out there with body armor on and long guns out there." Meanwhile, race organizers said that they have "set aside another location where friends and families can meet runners after they finish." The idea behind the security plan is to "ease the crowds that are expected to amass around Copley Square on April 21" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/27). The BAA said that runners "will be allowed to wear small fanny packs to carry food, medicine, identification, cellphones or other necessary small items." Massachusetts Undersecretary for Homeland Security Kurt Schwartz said, "We are going to strike a good balance between public safety and security, and ensuring that this is a celebratory and festive event like it has always been" (AP, 2/26).
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