The Boston Marathon next month will have an unusual look for a road race.
No bags, backpacks will be allowed near the start or finish line and bandits — unregistered runners — will be banned as part of increased security measures stemming from last year’s bombings. Bags and backpacks also will be prohibited along the 26.-2 mile course, the Boston Athletic Association announced, after bombs in backpacks near the finish line exploded, killing three people and injuring more than 260.
In the past, runners were allowed to bring bags and backpacks, usually containing things like a change of clothes or a jacket, to Hopkinton, at the start of the race, and the bags were taken to the finish line in Boston. Instead, the BAA will pr0vide clear plastic bags in which runners can check their stuff near Boston Common. Runners can wear fanny packs or fuel belts, but there will be restrictions on costumes that some like to wear. Faces must not be covered and no bulky clothes can be worn. Nor will strollers be allowed near the starting or finish lines.
“We are aware that many people want to participate in some way in this year’s Boston Marathon as a display of support, but we ask that those who are not official participants to refrain from entering the course for the safety of the runners and themselves,” the BAA wrote in an email to Boston.com. “Similarly, units or groups such as military ruck-marchers and cyclists, which have sometimes joined on course, will not be allowed to participate.”
Last summer, officials expanded the field for the April 21 race to 36,000 runners, an increase of 9,000, and part of the Boston scene is the presence of bandit runners. But not this year.
“This really is the year they need to avoid the Boston Marathon,” BAA spokesman Marc Davis told the Boston Herald. “With an already large field, it is just not the year to run if you’re not registered. We’re asking unregistered runners to just stand on the sidelines and cheer. Our policy is to provide a safe, enjoyable event. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Increased security measures will include the presence of undercover officers.
“I don’t want it to look like an armed camp,” William Evans, the police commissioner, said (via the Herald). “We don’t want to intimidate people with how we have the operation set up. This is a happy day. It’s a day for families. We don’t want to take anything away from that.”