Boston Marathon security

By Maria Cramer and Martin Finucane Boston Globe

State officials today announced tightened security restrictions for spectators who want to enjoy this year’s Boston Marathon, discouraging people who want to view the athletic spectacle from carrying a variety of items and to carry any items they do bring in a clear plastic bag.

“In this world, you never eliminate risk. You never bring it down to zero. But we are working very hard at reducing the risk,” said State Police Colonel Timothy Alben.

The tightened restrictions come as officials prepare for the first running of the world-renowned race since the terror bombings last year near the finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

State officials said today that more than 3,500 police officers would be stationed along the route, more than double the number last year.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency also asked spectators to be their eyes and ears, reporting suspicious conduct or items to the nearest police officer.

Spectators approaching viewing areas, or in viewing areas, may be asked to pass through security checkpoints, and police or security personnel may ask to inspect bags and other items. To avoid delays, officials said, spectators are discouraged from carrying a long list of items, including:

  • Backpacks
  • Suitcases and rolling bags
  • Coolers
  • Glass containers or cans
  • Any container capable of carrying more than 1 liter of liquid
  • Handbags or packages or bulky items larger than 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches
  • Large blankets/comforters, duvets, sleeping bags
  • Props (including sporting equipment and military and fire gear)
  • Costumes covering the face or any form-fitting bulky outfits

The officials also, unsurprisingly, discouraged people from bringing weapons or items of any kind that can be used as weapons; and flammable liquids, fuels, fireworks, or explosives.

Spectators along the entire race route are encouraged to carry any personal items in clear plastic bags, which will “enhance public safety and speed security screening,” the officials said.

“In all cases, spectators should keep their personal items under their immediate control at all times,” the officials said. “Unattended items may cause delays.”

“While this year’s Boston Marathon is expected to draw great interest from the community, leading to more fans and spectators, those interested in attending the race are also being asked for their cooperation in following reasonable and common sense guidelines that will help ensure the safety and security of participants, volunteers and spectators,” officials said in a statement.

The officials today also issued new security rules for the official venues of the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Marathon, including the grandstand seating at the finish line in Boston, the Athletes’ Village in Hopkinton, and the shuttle buses run by the BAA for both runners and spectators.

The officials also reiterated that “bandit” runners — runners who are not officially entered in the race — will not be allowed this year.

“Many people want to participate in some way in this year’s Boston Marathon as a display of support, but those who are not official participants are asked to refrain from entering the course for the safety of the runners and themselves,” the officials said.

“Official participants are asked to discourage family and friends who are not officially registered participants from entering the course in any manner,” the officials said.

No one without a BAA invitation will be allowed in the grandstand, and everybody entering will be subject to security screening. No one without an official race bib will be allowed in the Athletes’ Village. Runners’ family and friends will be prohibited from entering, officials said.

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