Tue April 23, 2013
Kentucky Derby Festival Restricting Backpacks, Bandits for Marathon, MiniMarathon
In response to last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon, organizers are banning backpacks and bandits from the course of Saturday's Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon.
Other changes include the prohibition of strollers on the course and the addition of the LMPD K-9 Unit to sniff around the start and finish lines, organizers said.
The annual races draw as many as 17,000 people—about 80 percent for the mini and 20 percent for the marathon. Festival officials expect that the largest crowds will be along the miniMarathon route.
As with other Derby events, officials are again asking people to be aware of their surroundings and to report suspicious activity to authorities.
"We're going to do our best but we need the public's health and the runners' help as well not to come in and bring their backpack and decide that they're going to just leave it there," said Mike Berry, president and CEO of the Kentucky Derby Festival.
Backpacks will be prohibited in the runners' corral, but runners can still wear camel packs and water belts, festival officials said. As in past years, an equipment truck will be on site and available for use by runners, and they'll also be given clear bags for their stuff.
In past years, the festival tolerated people who ran in the race without registering and wearing a bib. Not anymore.
"With everything that we have going on, we're just going to make sure that the people on the route are the people that we know," said Matt Gibson, vice president for events for the Kentucky Derby Festival.
Organizers are also planning commemorate those affected by the last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon. A moment of silence will be observed, runners will have the option of putting ribbons on their bibs and blue and yellow balloons—the colors of the Boston Marathon—will be placed at the end of the route.
Also, some proceeds for charity bibs will go to One Fund Boston.
Louisville Metro Police and Churchill Downs officials on Tuesday announced security measures for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.