by Oren Liebermann
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Penn Relays start Thursday, but Boston is still on everyone’s mind.
“The events of that day have shaken all of us to some degree,” said Dave Johnson, Director of the Penn Relays, in a press conference leading up to the three day track and field meet.
More than 20,000 athletes and 100,000 fans will pack Franklin Field to watch the historic meet. In light of Boston, crowds should be ready for extra security.
“Spectators want to know that we are all over security,” said Maureen Rush, Vice President of Public Safety, and we are all of us all over security.”
A team will watch the relays and the crowds from Penncomm, the security command center, using outdoor cameras to see what eyes on the ground can miss. Fans could get wanded at the gate, and they will not be allowed to bring in bags or backpacks.
“Frankly, that’s been in existence for many, many years since 9/11. Will it be enforced more rigorously? It will be,” said Rush.
UPenn will also have bomb-sniffing dogs and bomb disposal units ready in case of an emergency. Safety remains the top priority. Even relay participants will go through bag checks.
“Obviously, we’re a little bit worried,” said Kirk Webb, who will be running in the relays. “When such a disaster happens, it’s an issue.”
“I think it’s a necessary hassle,” said Drew Magaha, “but a hassle nonetheless.”
The Penn Relays are the oldest and largest track meet in the country. Organizers also want to make the 119th running of the historic races the safest.