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Marathon to be ‘safest place on the planet,’ race director says

The 26.2-mile Boston Marathon course “will be the safest place on the planet” when the 118th race is run next week, the longtime race director said Wednesday.

Dave McGillivray made the remark at a press conference where race organizers and public safety officials outlined what the public should expect at the first running of the Marathon since the bombings a year ago.

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“I truly believe because of our public safety officials that this will be the safest place on the planet on April 21,” said McGillivray.

There are 36,000 runners participating in Monday’s race, an increase of 9,000 competitors over last year and the second-largest field in the Marathon’s history, he said. The number of volunteers increased from 8,000 to 10,000.

McGillivray said he will run the race to support a foundation named for 8-year-old Martin Richard, a Dorchester resident who died in the bombings.

The boy was one of three people killed in the twin blasts near the finish line on April 15, 2013. The blasts also injured more than 260 others.

“We really feel that it’s important that this race go well from a security perspective, and it’s a family, fun-friendly race so we can get back to . . . the way it was. That’s what we’re all hoping,” McGillivray said.

About 3,500 uniformed and plainclothes police and National Guard soldiers will be stationed along the course, said Kurt N. Schwartz, the state’s undersecretary for homeland security and emergency management.

Authorities plan to monitor more than 100 video feeds from cameras positioned between Hopkinton and Boston and rely on spectators to report anything suspicious to authorities, Schwartz said.

Official race events begin Friday when runners can start picking up bib numbers at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, organizers said. Runners have until 6 p.m. Sunday to pick them up.

The Boston Athletic Association is holding shorter races Saturday, including a 5K and a youth relay event. A prerace dinner is scheduled for Sunday at City Hall Plaza.

Organizers are providing buses to transport competitors from Boston to the starting line in Hopkinton. The buses, which will leave from Boston Common, will begin accepting runners between 6:15 a.m. and 6:50 a.m. Monday.

The race has a no-bags policy for 2014, but competitors can check a change of clothing to retrieve after the race in a clear, plastic bag provided by Marathon organizers at Boston Common.

“We have a no-bag policy; that’s the bottom line,” said McGillivray.

Spectators are being asked to leave home bags, suitcases, packages, large blankets, weapons, coolers, costumes, fireworks, props, and containers that can carry more than 1 liter of liquid.

“We’re not forbidding backpacks. We’re not forbidding strollers. But it will make our jobs a lot easier,’’ said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans.

At the finish line, tighter security, including checkpoints, is planned for spectators and workers seeking to get into that area, Evans said. Anyone bringing a bag there could be searched, he said.

Evans said officers have been trained to identify suspicious behavior by people carrying packages, and more cameras are expected to be set up at the finish line.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.
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