The Boston College Campus School’s marathon team is organizing a “bandit run” of the Boston Marathon course on Sunday, April 13, starting at 9 a.m., instead of participating in the official Marathon the following Monday, April 21.
The tragic bombing of last year’s race meant, and continues to mean, many things for the Boston community. For runners, it means tightened security around the event.
While before the Boston Athletic Association’s policy towards “bandit runners,” or athletes without an official registration, had been fairly lenient, now the regulations and corresponding security measures will be much stricter.
Though not altogether surprising, the tightened restrictions spell bad news for Boston College’s own Campus School Marathon Team. Historically, the Campus School team has run in the Boston Marathon as part of a fundraiser for the Campus School, which provides education, therapy and care to severely disabled students ages 3-21.
Though technically bandit runners, the team’s presence had been until this year overlooked by the B.A.A, allowing them to run the race alongside registered participants.
The Campus School runners were recently informed by the B.A.A. that this would not be the case this year, and that their presence would not be tolerated.
“We contacted a B.A.A. representative to confirm what they’d said about bandit runners in their press release,” says Jim Andersen, A&S ’14, one of the chairs of the Campus School Marathon Committee. “(The representative) personally asked us not to run for security reasons.”
Andersen and his fellow chairmen had previously organized the Campus School runners’ participation in the Boston Marathon. Instead of allowing the hard work and intense preparation of the Campus School runners to come to naught, Andersen and his teammates are organizing a new marathon, both to support the Campus School and to give these hardworking athletes a chance to demonstrate their prowess.
“Even though (the runners) won’t be able to run on the day of the Marathon, they can do it here. That way, all of the work they’ve put in until this point won’t have been a waste,” says Andersen.
The importance of this new marathon to the Campus School runners is fairly obvious, but Andersen stresses the importance of the marathon to the Campus School itself. Indeed, the race is the School’s biggest fundraiser annually: Each runner solicits sponsorships, raising a $250 minimum donation towards the school, and this year will be pivotal in determining the long-term success of the fundraiser.
According to Andersen, though, the marathon’s significance to the school goes beyond financial concerns.
“It’s important as a show of support for the Campus School, and the city. The Campus School has had a pretty tough year, and this is an opportunity to put them back in the spotlight,” says Andersen, in reference to the events of last December in which the Campus School was nearly moved to an off-campus site.
“The Marathon is a show of strength,” Andersen continues, “not just for the Campus School, but for Boston College students and alumni.”
Andersen is confident in the expected turnout for the event, he says, citing the thus far positive response to the team’s endeavors on campus. Nevertheless, he urges students and alumni to cheer on the runners at Mile 21, as always.
As the Marathon begins at 9 a.m., Andersen projects that the runners will reach Mile 21 at noon, and clear the Boston College campus between noon and 1:30 p.m.
“Cheering is important to the runners. They look forward to Mile 21 more than anything. This is psychologically important to finishing the Marathon,” says Andersen, speaking from his own Marathon experience. It’s not for nothing that we call it “Heartbreak Hill,” after all.
When asked about the safety of the event, Andersen said, “The course is runnable, even without the roads closed. Of course, safety is a top concern of ours, and we’re working to keep our runners safe and hydrated throughout the entire race, just like they would be during the official Boston Marathon.”
Though the team’s inability to run on Marathon Monday remains disappointing, Andersen believes this “bandit run” will prove just as meaningful.
“Those who finish our race will receive medals,” said Andersen, once again stressing the importance of spectator turnout to the runners. “Our people trained for a marathon, not a 26.2 mile race. It should be an event, and we will make it an event.”
Photos courtesy of Campus School Bandit Marathon 2014/Facebook.