SCRANTON — For the 18th year in a row, thousands of runners will take part in the Steamtown Marathon this weekend. Because of the bombings at the Boston Marathon this spring, there are new, strict security rules for runners and spectators at the marathon on Sunday.
Runners in the Steamtown Marathon cross the finish line on North Washington Avenue near the Lackawanna County Courthouse. Organizers for the marathon say those runners have been told about new rules regarding what they can bring with them on their run and spectators at the finish line will see a big difference in security.
Scranton school superintendent Bill King has organized the Steamtown Marathon for 18 years. When the world watched the bombings at the Boston Marathon this spring, he first had an emotional reaction.
“Certain things that we thought were sacred are no longer sacred. It kind of rocked my sense of security and now I’m thinking about things, aspects of our race, that I’ve never had to think about before,” King said.
He says the Steamtown Marathon committee worked double time this year to create security measures meant to keep what happened in Boston from ever happening here.
Workers were already out getting the finish line ready for Sunday’s race which King says may have a different feel then the previous 17 races.
“You never think about terrorism. We had to purchase terrorism insurance this year. You never had to think about something like that in the past.”
King says runners have already been told that backpacks and bags are banned from the start of the race, and all of their belongings will be searched and put into clear plastic bags.
Runners will be able to pick up their belongings at the finish line where there will thousands of spectators. Organizers say those spectators will also see much stricter security and they’re asking spectators to leave their backpacks at home.
“It’s an appropriate response to just make sure everyone feels good and safe. They’re doing the best of what they know how to do,” said Justin Sandy of Scranton.
We talked to runners now resting up for the Steamtown Marathon, who said it’s sometimes hard to believe that security rules used to be so lax.
“It’s sad in a way that that’s what it’s come to, but it’s eye-opening, too. It makes sense,” said Joseph Kelly of Scranton.
You can find a link about the new Steamtown Marathon security measures here.
The marathon kicks off at 8 a.m. on Sunday in Forest City. Runners will start crossing the finish line in Scranton a few hours later.