Amateur Radio Volunteers Supporting Communication at 118th Boston Marathon
Under an umbrella of heightened security, Amateur Radio volunteers are out in numbers today to provide communication support for the 118th running of the Boston Marathon, a 26.2-mile race from Hopkinton to Boston, Massachusetts. In a show of solidarity following last year’s tragic bombings near the Marathon finish line, record numbers of runners — upward of 36,000 — have turned out for the 2014 Patriot’s Day event along with record numbers of onlookers. Authorities expect 1 million spectators to be along the route.
The Minuteman Repeater Association coordinates Marathon Amateur Radio Communication, with assistance from the Framingham Amateur Radio Association, the Mohawk Amateur Radio Club, and the Montachusett Amateur Radio Association. The race is sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association, which has posted up-to-the-minute details on race-day activities on its website.
Amateur Radio communication support became critical in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, when conventional telecommunications systems, such as cellular telephone, quickly became overloaded and confusion reigned.
This year hundreds of ham radio volunteers, many of them Boston Marathon veterans, will be stationed at transportation staging areas, a the starting and finish lines, and at critical points along the race route, as well as at first aid and water stations, and “shadowing” race and public service officials helping to ensure a safe event this year. According to a CBS-Boston report, a dozen or so hams associated with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s WPI Wireless Association will be among those helping to coordinate the departures of buses carrying runners and race personnel from a staging area to Hopkinton and transporting runners who are unable to complete the race.
Marathon organizers this year imposed strict security guidelines that discouraged backpacks and handbags and even baby strollers. Unregistered runners and cyclists also have been banned from the race course. The terrorist’s bombs last year were in unattended backpacks.