by avid Marathon Sports shopper and friend, Andy Nagelin


What you need to know about the 2014 BAA Boston Marathon Baggage and Allowable items policy.

Complete details of the BAA Baggage Policy and Gear Check are available on their web site.

Here are the essentials:

At the Marathon Expo, the BAA will provide a clear 18”x18”x4” bag for gear check. This is the only bag that can be used to check gear on Marathon Monday. This bag must be checked on the Boston Common before boarding a bus for Hopkinton.

This year you have to pick up your number in person. NO ONE ELSE CAN PICK UP YOU NUMBER FOR YOU. Also, you MUST have your ID with you to pick up your number. NO EXCEPTIONS.

At the finish line the BAA will give you a Heatsheet® Warmth Retention Cape for warmth. Often it is cool and breezy on Boylston Street after the race. You can get cold quickly and this hooded cape will keep you warmer than the space blanket they gave out in past years.

Between Hopkinton and Boylston Street

A lot happens between these two points. There are new policies this year that you MUST follow. First of all, your bib needs to be visible at all times. If you are wearing a throw away shirt, pin your bib to your shorts.

The 18”x18”x4” clear bag that the BAA gives you must be left in Boston. The BAA will not bring it back to Boston for you. If you are not going to check it on the Boston Common, don’t bring it. No bags will be returned from Hopkinton. They also will not allow a bag of this size onto the buses.

The BAA will allow you to bring 1 (one) fanny pack measuring no more than 5”x15”x5”. Many of us already have belts. Now is a good time to check the size of your belt. If the pouch on your belt is larger than 5”x15”x5” there is a good chance it will get confiscated. If the pouch is smaller than 5”x15”x5” then you are cheating yourself of valuable space.

You can also have 1 (one) standard manufactured “fuel belt”. The BAA does say that the “Bottles must be one liter or smaller”. Bottles is plural so you can have a belt with several bottles, as long as they are less than 1 liter in capacity.

No other items are allowed. No Nalgene bottles, glass, CamelBak, etc. Please understand that anything that does not meet these specifications could get confiscated and leave you with your hands full. Literally.

Pre-race gear check

Who hasn’t started packing for Boston already?

Now is the time to check your gear. Marathon Sports carries a variety of fuel belts and fanny packs that meet the BAA’s policies. It is best practice not to try anything new on Marathon day. If you need a new belt, fuel or fanny, check out Marathon Sports’ selection.

Take your new gear for a few runs and make sure it doesn’t have an odd bounce that you can’t deal with. Make sure it doesn’t chafe in a new and unexpected place. Load up your belt with the items you plan to take on Marathon Monday and make sure it doesn’t weigh too much.

Race Day

It’s difficult to predict race day weather this far out. In New England 24 hours is a long range forecast! It is usually in the 50s with a breeze before the race. In 2012 it was 800  well before the race started. It can rain.

Runners often bring “throw away” clothes to wear before the race. If you do not have a throw away jacket, the BAA will allow you to wear a clear trash bag. You must be wearing it and not carrying it. Make your cut outs the night before so you don’t have to rip holes in the bag on race morning.

The BAA will allow you to bring a sign no larger than 11”x17”. Since the grass on the Hopkinton High football field is usually wet I would advise you to bring a piece of cardboard no larger than 11”x17” to sit on. They do not put out chairs for us.

I would also advise you to bring a small plastic bag to put your cell phone in. A re-sealable sandwich bag works well. It’s not unusual to spill a cup of water or Gatorade on yourself during a race. Sometimes spectators or fire houses will have hoses shooting out into the road. You can get soaked if you’re not paying attention.

It’s going to be a special day. Make sure you have the items you need and that your gear conforms to the new BAA Baggage and Allowable Items policy. With race day nerves, who needs additional stress?