Wednesday, March 5, 2014

BAA Bans Cheeseburgers?!

The word is out and everyone's all a-buzz about the hefty restrictions put on runners and spectators for this year's Boston Marathon.  Many have argued that the controversial list of banned items is too restrictive and will not only have no real benefit of added security, but will take away from the experience of the runners.
The following list of banned items is taken directly from the BAA website (as well as emailed to each participant):

Prohibited items for official participants: The following items are 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:
  • 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 (such as CamelBak®, Thor®, etc)
  • 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
What's important to remember is that this restriction list isn't limited to the course itself.  It includes all "marathon venues", which could include the start area, finish area, or anywhere in between.  It's sad to think that no one with children will be allowed to use a stroller, or bring a diaper bag, to the race.  I remember last year, I may never have survived if Julia's husband Tony hadn't strolled up to us with their kids, given me the shirt off his back, and handed me his kid's peanut butter sandwich.  You know what I think they should ban? Sports beans.  I get annoyed listening to them rattle in runners' pockets like little mini maracas for 26 miles.

I'm pretty bummed about the costume restriction.  Not that I would wear a costume, but as a back-of-the-packer, I sure get to see a lot of them!  Remember all the cheeseburgers I saw last year?  I can only imagine all the runners right now that are frantically trying to redesign their cheeseburgers into something more form-fitting, like maybe tacos?  And what about the guy with the Pesky Pole hat?  I know I complained about him last year but now I'm worried I won't see him.

I'm also pretty disappointed about the restriction on props.  Again, not that I would ever bring one, but it's extremely inspiring seeing military and fire personnel running or marching the course in full gear and oversized flags.  I'm going to miss that a lot.

It goes on to say: 

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 B.A.A. reserves the right to remove any person from the course who is not displaying an official bib that has been assigned by the B.A.A. Similarly, units or groups such as military ruck-marchers and cyclists, which have sometimes joined on course, will not be allowed to participate.

Banning military ruck marchers is just a bad call.  It's un-American, and overall bad karma.  Here's a juicy tidbit from a Runner's World article:

Last year when the bombs went off near the finish line, members of Tough Ruck...were among the first responders to help the wounded. Carlos Arrendondo, a Tough Ruck volunteer who is credited with saving the life of Jeff Bauman who later went on to positively identify alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was also at the scene.

I caught a clip of the newly elected Mayor Marty Walsh addressing the issue of bandit runners.  His comment was, "If you don' have a numbah, don' even botha runnin'.  Ya gettin' pulled off the coss".  (This guy's accent is so thick and awesome, he could have starred in Good Will Hunting).

And my personal worst:
New for this year, there will be a “no bags” policy for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Frequently a marathon, especially a point-to-point race, will have a bag check option.  Each runner can fill a bag with some essentials that they will need after the race.  Usually, and most importantly, clothes.  But also specialty food items, especially if you have a sensitive stomach and can't rely on whatever the race provides.  I remember last year how carefully I had stocked that bag with everything I felt I needed to have a good post-race experience, only to be blocked from getting at my bag after the race.  I remember how hopeless I felt, like a refugee.  The thought of feeling like that again makes my stomach turn.

For everyone's sake, I really do hope that the race this year is successful and most importantly safe.  But at what cost?  I just wonder how much freedom we have to give up to feel secure.  One of my favorite things about running is feeling free, being able to just float down the street, letting go of stress and the daily grind.  Last year I remember everyone saying "Thank God you're alive, thank God you're safe", and running isn't supposed to be dangerous or life threatening.  I hate the thought of needing to put such tight security around a running event, and I pray this doesn't become the new normal.  Because the thing is, I really love cheeseburgers.

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