The Boston Marathon used to have a reputation for tolerating "bandits," the term used to describe marathon runners who join the race without paying to play. But the new security rules issued by the Boston Athletic Association in the wake of the deadly bombings at last year's race hope to put a stop to the practice: Anyone caught sneaking past the starting line or onto the path from the crowd mid-race will be "subject to interdiction," the new rules read. Traditional yet unofficial participants like "military ruck-marchers and cyclists" will be stopped on the track, too.
Bandits were once so popular at the Boston Marathon that the Boston Globe wrote a helpful guide to sneaking onto the track in 2011. Although plenty of Boston runners strongly disapprove of the practice — it costs money to enter a race, after all, so being a bandit is basically freeloading or stealing, hence the name — the Boston Marathon had a reputation of being relatively friendly to bandits. If you run as a bandit at almost any other marathon, you also risk being publicly shamed on the pages of Runner's World. In Boston, they basically just didn't give you a prize at the end for finishing. So the rule changes, in a way, simply bring the Boston Marathon in line with every other race of its kind: if you try to sneak in a run, you'll get pulled off the track by security.
The Boston Globe reported on the security changes on Wednesday. They include:
- Costumed runners: don't wear anything that covers your face.
- Backpacks, luggage, vests with pockets, bulky strollers, glass containers or anything that can hold over a liter of liquid won't be allowed near the start or finish lines.
- Runners won't be allowed to wear CamelBaks or any similar backpack-style water container. And there are additional restrictions on what runners can carry to the starting line. They can wear fanny packs.
Over 250 people were injured and three killed in a pair of explosions at the finish line of last year's race. Officials are expecting crowd sizes to double at this year's marathon, and are trying to step up security along all 26 miles of the race. That includes sending National Guardsmen to police the races for the first time in a decade. Officials also expanded the number of runners allowed to (officially) participate in 2014's race to 36,000, in an effort to accommodate marathon runners who might want to run as a show of support.