What to expect with heightened security at the Boilermaker

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) – Many Boilermaker runners have had the same routine for decades, but with heightened security, this year will be different. Officials say after the Boston Marathon bombings, they’re not willing to take any chances.

“When you come to the start area, if you have baggage, we’re going to be laying it out on the ground, the bomb sniffing dogs will come and check it,” said Jim Stasaitis, race director.

This year, bags for belongings will be clear instead of opaque. Officials made that decision on the same day as the Boston bombings to boost safety at the Boilermaker. And they’re asking everyone, not just runners, to follow the rule.

“Anything you bring, bring it in clear plastic and anybody, the spectators, if you bring something make it transparent,” said Jim Simpson, director of race safety for the Boilermaker.

With extra security checkpoints, 100 plus security officials and the National Guard on hand, expect delays and plan ahead. Officials also stress not to bring backpacks or coolers.

“Don’t bring coolers to the finish line area, don’t bring backpacks to the finish line area. These are things that are subject to search and we'll be, obviously, we’ll be looking for those things,” said Simpson.

They’re also cracking down on a rule that has fallen by the wayside in recent years. Once the last runner crosses the start line, a clock will start ticking down. Two and a half hours later, the finish line will be closed and anyone still running will be asked to move to the sidewalk.

“They’ll be considered a non-finisher. They won’t get a finisher’s pin. They’ll go to the post-race party and everything, but we’re strictly enforcing it. The longer people hang around the more chance of problems you have,” said Stasaitis.

They’re also asking everyone to use common sense and be aware of your surroundings.

“If you see someone in the crowd drop a backpack and walks away and just keeps walking and doesn’t care about their bag, make the call. Call 911 and get a team to check it out. We’ll have dogs there, the military’s going to be there checking air presence for us, we're going to have things in place. We just need the spectators’ eyes and ears open for us. We can’t do everything. We need their help,” said Captain Wayne Manolescu of the Utica Police Department.

Officials say the bottom line is if you see something, say something.

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