Extra security at Penn Relays falls in line

By |
Sports,Scott Silverstein

PHILADELPHIA -- If the opening day of Penn Relays tells us anything, it's that the residual fear from the Boston Marathon bombings isn't going to last long.

Heck, most of it might have been gone midway through the morning Thursday.

Penn Relays was the first major running event on the East Coast since a pair of bombs killed three and injured more than 180 others in Boston on April 15. It was no surprise that organizers announced strict security measures at Franklin Field.

Spectators weren't allowed to bring backpacks or really any bags others than purses. Food had to be in clear plastic bags, as did unopened water bottles.

At first, Penn Relays announced participants and coaches wouldn't be allowed to bring in bags either, but organizers realized this was an impossibility.

Instead, coaches and participants were sent to the back entrance, a spot usually reserved for entering on Saturdays when traditionally there is a large crowd. While this meant paying fans breezed through security at the other gates, it created a bit of logjam for the runners.

At 8:30 a.m., the line to go through security was more than a block long. Each ticket was scanned. Each bag was opened. Every athlete and coach was frisked. No one seemed to mind -- except for the athletes who stood in line so long they almost missed their races.

As a result, security relaxed. Bags were felt but not opened. Athletes were waved through. A wait that had been about an hour dropped by half.

Yes, security and police officers were more prevalent. But it was clear that practicality took precedence in the end.

- Scott Silverstein

ssilverstein@washingtonexaminer.com

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