THE Boston Athletic Association has banned bags and backpacks from the 2014 Boston Marathon after Islamist backpack bombers allegedly murdered 3 people and injured 260 at last year’s event.

Bags and backpacks will not be allowed at the start or finish lines or along parts of the course this April. Instead the Boston Athletic Association will provide clear plastic bags that will be managed by organisers on Boston Common.

It’s an interesting decison from organisers who have spent many months working on security arrangements for this year’s event. The move suggests that a blanket ban on luggage items is seen by security professionals as the only way to protect challenging public spaces from carried bomb threats.

Along with bags and other items, unregistered runners – so-called ‘bandits’ – who join in the race throughout the course, are prohibited.

“Anyone on the course for any distance who has not been assigned, or is not displaying, an officially issued bib number from the B.A.A. is subject to interdiction,” the association said, in masterful piece of understatement.

Prohibited from entering any Marathon venue, including the course, Athletes’ Village near the start in Hopkinton, start or finish area, and all officially-sanctioned Marathon events are:

* Backpacks, any similar item carried over the shoulder, or handbags of any size
* Glass containers
* Any container capable of carrying more than 1 liter of liquid
* Strollers, including baby strollers
* Suitcases & rolling bags
* Personal hydration system products
* Weight vests or any sort of vest with pockets (Note: lightweight running vests are allowable)
*Costumes covering the face or any non-form fitting, bulky outfits extending beyond the perimeter of the body
* Props (including sporting equipment and military and fire/gear and signs or flags larger than 11 inches x 17 inches)
* Any item larger than 5 inches x 15 inches x 5 inches.

Permitted items include:

* One fanny pack (no larger than 5 inches x 15 inches x 5 inches) to carry food, nutritional products, medicine, identification, cell phone, home/hotel key or other similar and necessary small items (only one fanny pack will be allowed per runner)
* Standard manufactured ‘fuel belt’ (bottles must be one litre or smaller)
The use of headphones is discouraged, but permitted.

By John Adams