These are not the bandits seen in old westerns, handkerchiefs over their faces and hats pulled down low, pushing their horses to the limit to plunder the stagecoaches. These bandits are unregistered marathon runners, and due to security concerns after last year’s bombing, they have officially been ousted from participating in the prestigious Boston Marathon 2014. The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) first made its intentions known regarding bandits February 26, 2014, but reiterated it today in light of the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Bandits were never encouraged to participate in the Boston Marathon, but neither were they prohibited from running. Some of the official runners and watchers of the race were a bit bothered by them over the years because it was felt that allowing them to run wasn’t fair to the people who had put in the blood, sweat and tears to train hard enough to actually meet the rigorous qualifications.
On the other hand, the bandits just tagged along towards the back or joined friends and family who were authentic participants; popping in and dropping out at any point along the way. They were more like mosquitoes at a barbeque; annoying, but not enough of a disturbance to shut down the party.
Some of these stowaways actually pounded the pavement with good intentions. They used the race as a way to raise donations for their charity of choice. One group of regular bandits through the years has been students from Boston College. They ran in the Boston Marathon as a way to raise money and awareness for a special-education school.
Boston Marathon officials are tightening security this year and no unofficial runners will be allowed. Every runner must wear a bib and number issued exclusively by the BAA. This will make it easier for spotters (officials sprinkled throughout the race) to pinpoint those who are suspicious or don’t belong. You can find a full listing of where to watch live online streaming and television broadcasts of the Boston Marathon here.