Marine Corps Marathon bans hydration backpacks, Halloween masks

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - When the 38th annual Marine Corps Marathon kicks off on Sunday, it will do so under tighter security.

April's Boston Marathon bombing has caused the Marine Corps event to re-evaluate how it keeps runners and spectators safe.

Everything from checked bags to the runners’ water supply has come under consideration.

The race's director says the first line of defense comes from the participants and onlookers.

“They need to be aware,” says director Rick Nealis. “They need to be looking around. They need to be conscious of their surroundings as well as our spectators. You see a backpack, call and tell someone.”

This year, the marathon is banning hydration backpacks and vests. Runners will not be allowed to wear Halloween masks as many have done in the past.

And runners can only check items in clear plastic bags. Under no circumstances will backpacks or luggage be allowed at baggage drop off.

Erin Masterson, who ran in this Spring's Boston Marathon, had just finished the race when the bombs exploded.

As she looks forward to this weekend, she understands and appreciates why the changes are necessary.

“It will change the tone of the race and the experience that runners have so I hope they can kind of balance between the two and make sure people have as enjoyable of an experience as they can,” Masterson says.