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Security Tightens For Second Boston Marathon Since The Bombing


Tomorrow is Patriots' Day in Massachusetts. It celebrates the first battles of the Revolutionary War. This is also the day Boston holds its annual marathon. Organizers expect about a million spectators will line the route to cheer on the runners. Two years after a terrorist attack killed three people, security remains a high priority at the Boston Marathon. Cameras are trained on practically every street corner, and security officials are doing bag checks. But as Asma Khalid from member station WBUR in Boston reports, the race will go on.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: I'm on Boylston Street in Boston, not far from the Boston Marathon finish line. And it's a festive atmosphere. Thousands of runners are milling about here to pick up their bid numbers for Monday's race.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If you don't have a bag, keep it moving. Bags on the table, please.

KHALID: Last year, the marathon was run under extremely tight security because of the bombings. It was unclear if those new rules were here to stay, but as we approach another marathon Monday, it seems they've become the new normal. Like last year, runners have to pass through a security bag check before they can pick up their numbers.

GEORGE VALCO: It's totally different.

KHALID: George Valco from Ohio last ran the Boston Marathon a decade ago.

VALCO: Ten years ago, I think there were lots of entrances. You just walked in. There was no security screening. So it's sad that it - things have come to that state.

KHALID: On race day, runners can no longer leave bags at the starting line. It's a change, says Jennifer Murray, but it doesn't bother her much. She's from metro Detroit and ran her first Boston Marathon the year the bombs exploded.

JENNIFER MURRAY: We were like, we are going back - period. That's it. And that's what I had told the lady when I picked up my number. She said you were here in 2013? I said I will be here next year and the year after and the year after.

KHALID: Surveillance cameras and checkpoints are sprinkled along the course. And the director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Kurt Schwartz, is also asking people not to bring backpacks.

KURT SCHWARTZ: It will enhance security. It will provide a much greater level of comfort to other spectators if people carry their possessions in a clear, plastic bag.

KHALID: Officials say Marathon security between 2013 and 2015 is night and day. They now spend more than half the year planning for race day.

For NPR News, I'm Asma Khalid in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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