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. It’s one of the changes being made to ensure greater safety for participants in the second-largest timed road race in the country, which takes place May 5.
Those changes follow the explosions of two bombs that killed three people and injured more than 180 at this week’s Boston Marathon.
Al Odenthal, a retired former Spokane assistant police chief who now serves as Bloomsday’s security director, said in a news conference Thursday that he couldn’t discuss some of the security measures being adopted.
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.
But “we have not been particularly specific about who would go into those (participant) loading zones,” Odenthal said. Family members or spectators often mingled with Bloomsday participants in the starting areas. This year, street barricades will be monitored more carefully by volunteers, he said.
“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 Street on the east.
Bloomsday has enough volunteers to take on that task, Odenthal said.
Bloomsday board member Jon Neill also announced that 50,000 “Bloomsday 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.