Cities Change Marathon Security Measures

The Chicago Marathon's new rules are due to the Boston Marathon bombings.

The Chicago Marathon announced this week that its security protocols will be enhanced ahead of the October 13 race, and according to Runner’s World, the main changes will affect the starting line, packet pick-up, and gear check.

Runners will be limited to four security checkpoints for entry and there will be a new bag-screening process which will require runners to have their bibs visible. Runner’s World reports:

Friends can no longer pick up runners’ race packets; participants must collect their own bib and timing chip at the expo. Runners are also restricted to using a race-issued clear plastic bag for gear check.

Chicago Marathon officials said the new measures were designed to enhance the safety of runners, spectators, volunteers and staff.

As in past years, spectators at Chicago will not be allowed into the starting and finishing line areas. Spectators wanting to enter the nearby family reunion area will be required to pass through one of two security checkpoints and are discouraged from carrying bags.

Chicago Marathon spokesperson, Jeremy Borling, said in a statement that the new procedures will be strictly enforced and that the security changes have already been made available to the 45,000 participants running this year’s race.

After the bombings in April, Runners World asked the question on many runner’s minds: How will the bombings affect race security across the country? The thought of a road race being a target of terrorism was so far-fetched that when the bombs went off it shocked the world. Banning large bags and backpacks is a first step, but many of these races are held on public roads and public sidewalks.

Things like intelligence reviews, site sweeps, checking key areas like bridges, crowd control on a grand scale, and check points at high-traffic locations including the start and finish lines can help, but how can you secure 26.2 miles of public road?

Runner’s World reports that it is no easy task.:

The task is daunting, especially compared to securing sporting events held at stadiums. Large races feature tens of thousands of runners and spectators, and span miles of road. The inability to control access, check bags and funnel people through metal detectors are among the challenges.

“You cannot 100 percent guarantee safety at an open event like a marathon, but you can have excellent security,” says Sal Lifrieri, owner of the security consulting firm Protective Countermeasures and former director of security and intelligence operations for New York City during Rudy Giulani’s administration.

The Chicago Marathon may be the first to announce sweeping new measures but it surely won’t be the last.