Security Now A Priority for Events

No surprise here, the Boston Marathon, more than a month before its 2014 running, announced a number of security changes from the 2013 event that saw the tragic bombing at its finish line.

The Marathon has banned several items from its event, including bags, backpacks, handbags, suitcases and similar items. Not so different from what other events have implemented in the almost year since the Boston bombing, but the severity of the limitations may take some getting used to, since runners often carry their change of clothes in bags that they can check. Many events have gone to clear plastic check bags, and Boston will allow runners to use those clear bags that the Marathon itself gives out.

Boston also is going a step further and prohibiting containers with more than a liter of liquid, costumes covering the face and bulky clothes-vests with pockets, for example.

Here’s what runners can do—they can run with small fanny packs or fuel belts that can carry medication and cell phones, along with a small water bottle.

It’s not just the participants affected by these new restrictions—large flags or signs bigger than 11 x 17 inches are banned from any marathon venue, described as the start and finish areas, the course itself, the athletes’ village and areas where official events are held such as the pasta parties, etc. Signage, for anyone who’s done one of these events, is a big part of the festival atmosphere along the marathon (or half marathon) routes. And don’t count on your son or daughter or Team In Training ‘hero’ to jump in during the last 50 yards to finish the race with you—they’ll be prohibited from doing that as well.

Too much? Too prohibitive? Or a sign of the times. Perhaps a little of all three. Let’s face it, ever since 9/11, security has been on the minds of any event rights holder or venue. The Boston bombing just brought it closer to home and reached out to spectators who were just there to cheer on friends and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere.

I remember my first trip to London, I had a candy wrapper I wanted to throw away and I got agitated when I couldn’t find a trash can to deposit it. It was a few minutes before I realized that getting rid of trash cans was their own security measure. It is a way of life in many European cities, and now it’s becoming a way of life for us here in the states, especially at events that draw thousands of people.

It means extra costs for those putting on the event, but the cost of not increasing security can be hundreds of times more expensive.

Boston Marathon lead pack

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