By Hania Malhas
Boston University News Service
BOSTON – While not starting at its usual time of year due to the pandemic, 20,000 runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators will once again take part in the 26.2-mile trek that is the Boston Marathon on Monday.
With the return of the marathon, Boston Police Department has also announced its safety and security plan. In a Tuesday release, the BPD reminded marathon-goers to “refrain from public drinking and open containers,” to not gather on rooftops or porches, and, given the heightened sense of security, to avoid bringing backpacks to the marathon area.
Returning also is plenty of traffic advisories, with the BPD recommending locals stick to using the MBTA. It is recommended that residents take the MBTA to travel due to the large volume of visitors to the city. On that note, Newbury Street and Huntington Avenue outbound will be closed, in addition to other street closures and parking restrictions.
COVID-19-wise, according to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), in order to ensure the safety of runners and spectators, runners must provide a negative COVID-19 test the weekend of the marathon or proof of the COVID-19 vaccination. If the test result is positive, the participant will have to leave.
With regards to masking, the BAA’s policy states that “masks will not be required while running the 26.2-mile course, but will be enforced on participant transportation and in other areas in accordance with local guidelines.”
Running her third full marathon, Revere native Laurie Kelley said if masks were required while running, she likely wouldn’t participate this year.
Ready to go and in better shape compared to her 2019 Boston Marathon run, Kelley said her love for running has grown since her first half-marathon in 2017, acting as an outlet for releasing any negative energy and “getting the gratification (she) yearned for as a recovering alcoholic.”
The marathon’s 2020 cancellation left the runner feeling discouraged, after having put three months of intense training into her prep.
“When in-person marathons were taken away as a result of COVID, I missed the camaraderie of fellow runners in races, ” she said. “Running the Boston Marathon is a tribute to my loved ones and myself to prove that I am strong enough and will continue to fight for all of my lost dreams that I am awakening with courage.”
The BAA also recommends that spectators try to socially distance themselves as much as they can and to wear masks when unable to do so.
As a runner, Kelley knows the importance of spectators, who have included her own family in years past.
“They were all there for 2019 when I ran, which made me so emotional,” Kelley said. “I hope I get to experience that same feeling this year. I’m sure everyone will be there.”
As is tradition, this year’s marathon will start on Main Street in Hopkinton at 9 a.m. on Oct. 11. The BAA asks that if spectators want to see the start of the race, that they “please note that roads in Hopkinton close at 7 a.m. and no street parking will be available.”
After a year and a half of emotional rollercoasters and uncertainty, Kelley said the marathon has brought hope and a bit of normalcy.
“For me, it will be my way of saying I have turned a corner changing uncertainty to hope by seeing a future that will overcome a worldwide pandemic,” she said.