April 18, 2013

Bloomsday security tightened in wake of Boston Marathon bombs

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Lilac Bloomsday Association directors say they’ll require runners and walkers to show their official race tags before lining up for the start of this year’s run. Bloomsday, which occurs on May 5, is the second-largest timed road race in the country.

Retired former Spokane Assistant Police Chief Al Odenthal, who now serves as Bloomsday security director, said that’s one of several changes in this year’s race to ensure greater safety for runners, walkers and spectators at the May 5 event.

Those changes follow the explosions of two bombs that killed three people and injured more than 150 at this week’s Boston Marathon.

Odenthal took part in a press conference Thursday organized by the Bloomsday board in response to the Boston events.

“Some things that we’ll do we can discuss, and other things we will not be able to discuss,” Odenthal said of the security changes.

On race days in recent years, crowds generally moved through downtown to and from start areas with little difficulty. Street barricades were in place to separate the color-coded line-up areas from spectators.

This year those street barricades will be monitored more carefully by volunteers, Odenthal said.

“We have not been particularly specific about who would go into those (participant) loading zones,” he said. Family members or spectators often got into the starting area in years past.

“But now, unless you have a participant bib, we’ll stop you at the cross-street barricades,” he said.

The location of downtown starting areas hasn’t changed. The monitored barricades will create a four-sided protected area, starting along Main Avenue on the north and Sprague Avenue on the south, and Lincoln Street on the west and Browne Avenue on the east.

Bloomsday has enough volunteers to take on that task, Odenthal said.

Bloomsday board member Jon Neill also announced that 50,000 “Spokane Stands with Boston” lilac-colored bracelets will be presented to people picking up race packets the weekend of Bloomsday. They’ll also be distributed to participants in the Junior Bloomsday and Marmot March kids’ runs the day before the Bloomsday race.

The bracelets will be a way for Bloomsday and Spokane to show solidarity and that “our community stands strong and our spirits will not be dampened” by the terrorist bombings that occurred near the Boston Marathon finish line.

Washington Trust Bank is helping pay for the bracelets.

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