With six weeks to go until the 118th Boston Marathon, local runners are braving the arctic weather to get those long runs in, raise funds for charity, and doing their best to ward off injuries and the nasty cold and flu bugs that are rampant right now.
But another concern that has emerged involves Marathon Monday itself. Given last year’s bombing near the finish line, marathon organizers are taking unprecedented security measures this year.
The Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which organizes the marathon, announced recently that it will no longer allow runners to bring bags on buses from Boston to Hopkinton and that there will be no baggage transport buses to take runners’ belongings to the finish area. Bags will also not be allowed in certain areas at or near the start in Hopkinton, at or near the finish in Boston, or along the course.
Runners will be able to check gear on Boston Common on the morning of the marathon, using an official clear plastic bag provided by the BAA at number pickup. The bag must be left at the gear check area on the Common before boarding a BAA shuttle bus to the start. Of course, many runners don’t use those buses and just head straight to Hopkinton, so not everyone will be able to use take advantage of the gear check.
The new guidelines will be challenging, said Sue Quimby of Middleton, who will be running her fourth Boston and fifth marathon overall.
“The new baggage rules are definitely going to be problematic, especially if it’s inclement weather. I am lucky that I have a warm bus to sit on before the race, but thousands sit outside in the elements for the 2-3 hours that we all have to wait,” she said. “Runners from out of town who are staying in Boston can use the Boston Common bag drop, but local runners usually get transportation straight to Hopkinton. I am most concerned with post-race and not having warm, dry clothes to change into or my cell phone, which is too cumbersome to run with.”