In light of Monday’s tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, Penn Relays will be stepping up security.
Officials have not released many details on the extent to which the measures will be taken, except that backpacks will not be permitted.
The bombings — which killed three people and injured more than 170 — have led to a push for heightened restrictions at the 119th Penn Relays that take place next week from April 25 to 27.
“We will be looking at every angle of this event to make sure that we do everything possible to make this a safe event as always,” Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush told Fox 29 News.
This year, more than 22,000 entrants are expected, according to the Penn Relays Office. Additionally, attendance over the three-day period is projected to exceed 110,000 people, with Saturday’s events garnering the largest number of people.
After last week’s attack, the close-knit running community has been on high alert. This will especially be true in this time of increased traffic to the Penn campus and Franklin Field next week, which fills up with spectators and athletes of all levels and from around the world for the famous track and field event.
“What happens to them affects all of us in the athletics community,” Director of the Penn Relays Dave Johnson said Wednesday in a press conference.
“Security is always a high priority at the Penn Relays,” he said. “It’s something we take very seriously. We’ve all seen that, ever since 9/11 in particular. This year’s security measures will be enhanced from previous years.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that more details should be released early next week concerning security measures.
According to an email from the Division of Public Safety, “the most noted change for this year, in light of Boston, is that spectators will not be permitted to bring in backpacks or large bags.”
Competitors are exempted, who will be permitted to bring in their bags of equipment after being checked by security at an athlete-entrance point.
This is not the only local event that will be increasing security in the wake of Monday’s events. The Philadelphia Police Department will also be looking to increase measures for next month’s Broad Street Run, a 10-mile race some 20 blocks east of Franklin Field that goes the length of this Center City artery.
“There’s going to be a ton of security to get into Penn Relays and every other venue in the country after this,” Rush said.
But the focus on campus is securing the heart of Penn’s section of 33rd Street.
In past years, restricted items included large bags, coolers, glass bottles, cans, weapons and alcohol.
“We have always looked at this as a high-level security detail,” Rush said. “We work with Philadelphia Police, we work with the feds, homeland security bomb squad, dogs, we do it all.”
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