BOSTON — The logistics of running the Boston Marathon have always been a challenge for both organizers and competitors, but this year that challenge will be unprecedented as officials work to step up security following last year’s deadly bombing.
The Boston Athletic Association on Wednesday announced a “no bags” policy for runners, limiting what they can have with them at the starting line in Hopkinton. In previous years, the BAA provided bags that runners could bring with them to the starting line that would be transported back to the Boylston Street finish line.
Runners can wear fanny packs, but they have to be small — just big enough for a cell phone, maybe a Power Bar, a credit card and some medicine. Fuel belts will also be permitted, but the bottles those carry have to be one liter or smaller. And personal hydration systems that are worn like backpacks — such as a CamalBak — are out. Runners will have to rely on the liquids available at the official aid stations along the course, and on the kindness of strangers, especially on Heartbreak Hill.
The gear that runners have stored in their backpacks for past marathons can be checked at Boston Common before the race in a clear plastic bag provided by the BAA. If it’s cold and runners wear extra layers to the starting line, they can choose to discard those layers as the race begins. The BAA says it will collect the clothing and donate it to charity.
Also new this year: Participants must claim their own bib number ahead of the race and cannot have friends or family collect it for them.
The BAA also has a message for “bandit” runners — folks who are not officially signed up for the event. Some expect there will be more bandits than usual because of the symbolic nature of the 2014 race, but the BAA is warning runners without official bib numbers to stay on the sidelines.
“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,” reads a statement on the BAA website. “Anyone on the course for any distance who has not been assigned, or is not displaying, an officially issued bib number from the B.A.A. is subject to interdiction. The B.A.A. reserves the right to remove any person from the course who is not displaying an official bib that has been assigned by the B.A.A. Similarly, units or groups such as military ruck-marchers and cyclists, which have sometimes joined on course, will not be allowed to participate.”
The field for this year’s race is expected to be around 36,000, about 9,000 more than last year. The total includes the more than 4,000 people who were unable to finish the 2013 race after the bombs went off.