Following the bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced increased security measures for this year’s race. Besides outlining an increased police presence along the route and laying out stricter rules for both runners and spectators about wearing costumes, carrying backpacks, and possessing glass bottles, among other things, the BAA also released a statement unequivocally discouraging unauthorized participants. “For the safety of our participants, spectators, and partners, public safety officials and the BAA strictly prohibit unofficial participation, and those in violation will be subject to interdiction,” reads a passage on the BAA website. “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 … The BAA reserves the right to remove any person from the course who is not displaying an official bib that has been assigned by the BAA.”
The Campus School Volunteers of Boston College (CSVBC) traditionally arranges training and transportation for BC students who run the Boston Marathon as “bandit runners” in order to raise funds for the Campus School. In accordance with this year’s stricter stance on unofficial runners, though, the CSVBC announced mid-March that it would no longer be able to support BC’s bandit runners on the day of the Marathon. To ensure that the 350 students who had been training would still have an opportunity to see their work come to fruition, the CSVBC staged its own informal marathon yesterday, conducted much the same way as its usual training runs. On Sunday, the CSVBC arranged transportation to Hopkinton and then back from Copley Square, and it set up water stations along the route for the runners. Runners left the starting line at 9 a.m. and hit Mile 21 a few hours later, mainly between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Although the roads weren’t blocked off and there were far fewer runners than on previous Marathon days, students, friends, and family still turned out to line the sidewalks, holding signs, giving high-fives, and cheering for the Campus School runners. The atmosphere was certainly different from the typical BC Marathon Monday, but it was encouraging that so many people still showed up to support those running for a good cause.
As of now, it is uncertain whether Marathon Sunday will become a new tradition at BC, or whether students interested in running will seek out other marathons or try to run the Boston Marathon by registering for other charities. As a committee of Campus School parents is in the process of developing a plan to make the school’s retention at BC financially sustainable, losing the fundraising that hundreds of bandit runners brought in every year would be a considerable obstacle. Whatever CSVBC decides, next year’s leaders should make that decision public as soon as possible so that runners can plan accordingly.
Looking ahead a week, hopefully students will turn out again on April 21 to cheer on the official runners, despite extra security measures that might change the way Marathon Monday works and the fact that fewer familiar faces will be in the crowd. One year after the 2013 attack, many are running the 2014 Boston Marathon in order to pay their respects to those affected by the bombings, and having spectator support will be particularly meaningful.
Student safety next Monday is a serious concern for University administrators, and Dean of Students Paul Chebator stressed that students are expected to recognize that, while the Marathon will still be a celebration, it is also solemn occasion. Chebator said that enforcement policies will be the same as they have been in the past-the Mods will be under the same restrictions as on tailgating days in the fall, and the alcohol policy will be enforced as usual. Most BCPD officers will be on duty, and about 20 Student Affairs staff, alongside Eagle EMS members, will be on hand as well. The University is asking students to be respectful of the runners, officials, and each other, and those requests are entirely reasonable, given the extra meaning attached to this year’s race.