Boston Marathon Bombings: Organizers Forced To Alter Race Course For Remaining Runners
As the Boston Athletic Association yesterday "shut down" the '13 Boston Marathon in the wake of bombings near the finish line around 2:50pm ET, runners were "diverted off the race course and onto Commonwealth Avenue, as police and ambulances rushed to the scene," according to Amalie Benjamin of the BOSTON GLOBE. Participants instead "continued straight, without any understanding of why they were not following the traditional course." Of the 23,326 runners who "started the Marathon, 17,584 finished before the race was stopped." There were 4,496 runners who "made it to the 40-kilometer mark -- where runners enter Boston -- but did not cross the finish line." The BAA announced at the Fairmont Copley hotel that a "secure area had been set up on Boston Common for families to meet." But that "never happened, with the police and BAA deciding not to bring masses of people into one location so close to the scene." Instead, runners were "diverted and dispersed, with the police urging people to leave the Back Bay." The BAA released information "in dribs and drabs, but it was announced that the awards ceremony and postrace party were cancelled." One issue for the BAA was the "hundreds of yellow bags full of runners’ belongings that were left behind on Berkeley Street, stranded due to the closing of the area." Usually that baggage is "laid out in the streets to be claimed by participants." But that "wasn’t allowed with everything that had gone on." The BAA, which cancelled today's postrace media conference, said that those bags can be picked up with "a bib number or proof of race participation" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/16).
ON THE SCENE: USA Today Sports Media Group President Tom Beusse said that he "finished the race about three minutes before the blasts and estimated he was 150 yards away." Beusse: "It couldn't have been more than three or four minutes. I was mid-Boylston Street, and all of a sudden there was this giant explosion. All of us turned around, the runners, and had these looks on their faces like, 'Oh my god.' We all knew it was something bad." Beusse said that the race "ended immediately." He added, "They immediately turned the bomb site into a crime scene. Anybody that hadn't gotten to the finish line was immediately rerouted" (USATODAY.com, 4/15).
WITH BIG EVENTS COME BIG RISKS: In Boston, Gerry Callahan writes there was "no big sporting event that seemed less dangerous" than the Boston Marathon. There is "always that ominous pall leading up to the Super Bowl ... same goes for the World Series or a big college bowl game or even the Indy 500." Callahan: "But the Marathon? Our Marathon? It has a decidedly international flavor these days, but somehow it still felt insulated and innocent, like a big block party to celebrate the start of spring" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/16). In Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan writes the Boston Marathon is an "insidiously perfect target for the kind of twisted mind that wants to create maximum shock value." What makes the event "so special is what makes it so vulnerable" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/16).