Grilk said he isn’t concerned that the need for increased vigilance will turn what had been a festive atmosphere into a secure but sterile police state.
“We have worked in close collaboration with law enforcement for a very, very long time,” he said. “And they have every bit as much an understanding of the core and fabric of this event as anyone else. We are very confident in the decisions they make.”
Expanding the field has similar problems. Space limits at the start in small-town Hopkinton led organizers to cap the field at 27,000, though nearly 40,000 were admitted for the centennial edition in 1996.
Boston has long embraced its marathon, with thousands of volunteers handing out water along the course or tending to the injured in the finish line medical tent. Last year, as temperatures climbed into the upper-80s — dangerously high for a distance race — people who lived along the course bought ice and water to give runners.
Grilk saw that same spirit in the rush to aid the injured.
“Everybody — everybody — around this race feels like it’s theirs,” Grilk said. “They own it.”
“And they’re right,” McGillivray said.
“They are not going to let bad things happen,” Grilk said. “It’s breathtaking.”