In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, organizers of the Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk are stepping up security measures for this year’s events, to be held April 3-5.
At a Tuesday meeting of staff, agencies, sponsors and volunteers, Bridge Run Director Julian Smith said the measures will range from bomb-sniffing dogs and tighter controls at the Kids Run and Wonderfest on April 4 to bags carried by runners on shuttle buses, at corrals in the starting area and at the finish line at the 10K on April 5.
As part of measures, the Bridge Run will provide a clear plastic bag with a mesh backing to participants as the official race bag for transporting items to the start and finish lines. Also, the Bridge Run will not have a beer garden due to security concerns.
“We are going to have a lot more security at the race this year because of Boston,” said Smith, referring to the terrorist bombings at the marathon on April 15.
The bombings took place nine days after last year’s Bridge Run, and, like many large races across the nation, local officials vowed to step up security.
Mark Wilbert, director of the city of Charleston’s Emergency Management department, said the police departments in Charleston, the town of Mount Pleasant and city of North Charleston have been working on a “unified command” plan for the Bridge Run.
He added the departments also will be getting support from state and federal agencies.
“This is a great event and we want to keep it a great event, but we also want a safe event,” said Wilbert, in an interview after the meeting. “We don’t want it to look like public safety is running the race. We’re not going to come in and bully people.”
Final details of security plans have not been hammered out, but Wilbert said the departments are going to call on participants and spectators to take certain measures during the event to help prevent any incidents from occurring.
Last year’s Bridge Run had 31,456 finishers, which was down 5,298 from the 2012 event. Running USA has yet to release a report on the largest races in 2013, but the Bridge Run in 2012 was the fifth largest in the nation. By comparison, the Boston Marathon was the 18th largest.