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What security changes mean on race day

11/1/2013

The New York Road Runners will spend approximately $1 million on security for this year's New York City Marathon, about double the amount of previous years.

After the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, NYRR hired MSA Security, to conduct what the organization calls "a top-to-bottom analysis of our existing internal security program."

Below are some of the measures that will be in place for runners and spectators as a result of that analysis. There are also behind-the-scenes measures that, given the nature of the situation, NYRR will not discuss publicly.

For runners

Race-day baggage: One of the biggest changes at this year's marathon was supposed to debut last year: optional bag check at the start.

Entrants were required to choose whether to have a bag transported from the start to the finish, or to not check a bag. When optional bag check was announced by NYRR in 2012, it was presented as a way to ease congestion within Central Park after the finish. Post-Boston, it now doubles as a security measure.

All runners will receive a clear plastic bag in which to bring items to the start. Runners who opted for baggage transport will receive a second, UPS-branded bag that they must use for items to be sent to the finish.

Runners who chose not to check a bag will leave on Staten Island whatever items they brought in their clear plastic bag; discarded clothing and other items will be donated to charity. Non-bag check runners will receive a poncho soon after the finish and be able to exit Central Park much sooner than bag-check finishers, who must walk several blocks within Central Park to retrieve their belongings.

Prohibited items: NYRR has published an extensive list of prohibited items. Some apply to runners and spectators within areas such as the start, finish and post-race reunion area. Most of these items are no-brainers, such as weapons and fireworks.

There are additional items runners are prohibited from having on the course. NYRR's ban on some of these, especially backpack hydration systems such as CamelBaks, has drawn criticism from some runners. Vests with multiple large pockets are also prohibited, as are "costumes covering the face or any non-formfitting, bulky outfits extending beyond the perimeter of the body."

The Expo: Runners and non-runners alike are subject to search when entering the race expo. Throughout race weekend, inspections will be conducted by a combination of NYRR employees, private security workers, employees of a given venue, and New York City police officers.

For the expo, NYRR advises not bringing a bag. Expo attendees are allowed one bag each, though, no larger than a woman's purse.

For spectators

Family reunion area: Everyone entering the area will be subject to bag inspection and screening. NYRR is advising runners to meet family members elsewhere, in part because of the time it will take to screen non-runners entering the dedicated reunion area.

Finish bleachers: Fans lucky enough to have scored seating near the finish are subject to bag checks. NYRR is advising no more than one bag per person, with that bag being no larger than a woman's purse. Strollers won't be allowed in the grandstands.

On the streets: Expect an even more pronounced police presence than the already-formidable one in recent years. Impromptu aid stations and running on to the course to offer runners a drink or encouragement will likely be frowned upon by New York City's finest. Another post-Boston reality: Bomb-sniffing police dogs at the start, finish and elsewhere.