Backpacks and large containers will be banned at an upcoming San Francisco marathon, as part of increased security in response to the Boston Marathon terror attack.
The 102nd annual Bay to Breakers footrace will be held on Sunday, May 19. Over 30,000 runners and walkers are expected to participate, many in fanciful costumes. It is the first such event in the US since the Boston-area bombings on April 15th.
San Francisco police officials have declared that backpacks, large bags, and any container exceeding 8.5x11x4 inches will be prohibited at the event. In the Boston bombings, two bombs were left in backpacks near the finish line of the marathon.
Anyone who has not formally registered for the footrace will be removed from the course. Unregistered runners, or “bandits,” are a traditional part of the race. In 2010, over half of the 60,000 participants, including Mayor Gavin Newsom, were unregistered.
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Police Chief Greg Suhr said that additional officers would be posted along the race route, and that plans for increased security measures have been discussed since the day of the Boston attacks.
The police are also asking participants to report unattended packages.
In previous years, police barred a variety of objects from the event, including floats, shopping carts, and coolers & ice chests. Alcohol is also prohibited.
The Bay to Breakers race begins near The Embarcadero, adjacent to San Francisco Bay, and concludes 7.5 miles away at the Great Highway, where the breakers crash onto Ocean Beach. Costumes are an important part of the event, which is also notorious for public nudity. The race includes a “centipede” competition, in which participants run as teams while tethered together.