The same bag and gear check policy from 2014 applies to participants and spectators for the 2015 Boston Marathon. Since I did not run last year, I don’t know how people managed this policy and what they thought about it. Comments on Boston Athletic Association (BAA)’s Facebook Page seems to indicate it was not a big deal, though some are finding it of inconvenience. As the trial of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect proceeds this week, I cannot help but admit the terrorist attack has managed to change the event and the community surrounding the event. This makes me sad; however, at the same time, I feel fortunate, grateful and empowered that the event still goes on without surrendering to the evil and horror.
To summarize the bag and gear check policy, the checking of personal items with BAA is very limited. The only opportunity for the runners to check their personal items to be brought back to the finish in Boston will be at Boston Common on the morning of the race, between 5:30 am and 9:30 am, by the runners themselves, not by the friends or families. This is good for the runners who stay the night before near the Boston Common or downtown, but the rest has to deal without having their personal at the finish line; something many are accustomed to and even expect. To keep the runners warm after the finish, BAA is providing a warmth retention cape, Heatsheets® Warmth Retention Cape, as it did last year. The cape looks like fun but I wonder if it will keep me warm. I have not seen many comments from the 2014 runners about the cape. I suppose I will find out and share my opinion here.
For the runners, whatever the allowed personal items to the start line have to be either forgotten about, or carried with the runners for 26.2 miles. I have enough throwaways, so I don’t think this will be a problem. For the spectators, however, it seems this policy might discourage from coming out to the course and have fun. This totally sucks for them. One of the major components that makes Boston Marathon special is the community participation and the fun they have while doing it. Not allowing them to bring large blankets, coolers, glass containers, cans and props (is a folding chair a prop?) will definitely affect their time watching the race. To be selfish, in my past running of Boston Marathon, I was saved by sponges, oranges, bananas and other items the spectators brought to the course for the runners. I suspect this will not be available this year? Will BAA have more aid stations to make up for this? But then, we are talking about fun-loving and resilient people who have been participating in the event for a long time, so I might be pleasantly surprised on the race day.
Many lament this bag and gear policy. I have seen negative comments that are taken out on BAA or on the event. Some even say that this is non-American, because BAA is succumbing to the act of terrorists and letting them win by making changes that inconvenience the runners and the community. I do understand their frustration and I don’t want to see airport-like security at anywhere near the course in the future. But we are not letting the terrorists win. After the tragedy in 2013, BAA and the community came back the next year and succeeded in giving a clear message to the evil that we won. A lot of discussion, planning and execution went into making the 2014 Boston Marathon possible. I am, for one, happy to see many people are looking forward to the event again this year, despite a few changes in policies. I really wanted to run last year’s race, but I think not running last year will make it more special this year for me.