Military programs supported by the B.A.A. at the Boston Marathon
The Boston Athletic Association continues to embrace the military; military marchers have been a part of the race for many years and will continue to be this year. For 2015, the B.A.A. will issue official bibs to members of the Massachusetts National Guard, both as a way of recognizing their service to their country and to thank them for their role in the response to the 2013 attack. Approximately 100 National Guard soldiers will be official participants in the 2015 Boston Marathon and will be wearing official B.A.A. bibs. The soldiers will depart from Hopkinton early on Monday morning (several hours before the official start of the race). The soldiers, who will march to Boston, are expected to cross the finish line mid-afternoon. The soldiers will not carry rucksacks and they will follow all of the rules that apply to other official participants.
Over the years, military units and veterans associations from around the country have expressed overwhelming interest in marching in the Boston Marathon. However, it has become clear that thousands of marchers, many intending on carrying rucksacks, have also planned on marching as unofficial participants. While the B.A.A. and the host communities appreciate the support of the military, and understand the desire of these units and associations to participate, it was necessary to impose reasonable safety and security restrictions. The B.A.A.’s priority is to ensure the safety of almost 30,000 official participants.
Since 2005, thousands of United States armed forces personnel stationed overseas have participated in “shadow” versions of the Boston Marathon, running the marathon distance on, or near, Patriots’ Day, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or on a ship at sea. The Boston Athletic Association has provided Boston Marathon start and finish banners, bibs, tee shirts, medals, and finisher certificates for participants in these shadow marathons.