"Watched my dad come up Boylston as I stood outside the Lenox Hotel. We high fived as he passed and then once he made it down to the finish area I turned around to walk back to Ring Street to try make my way to the meeting area. First explosion happened within seconds of turning around. People screamed and a few around me yelled to "Stay calm." It was so crowded where I was standing no one really got anywhere before the second blast. At that point, it was crazy, I got pushed into the alley way and everyone around me was knocked to the ground. Since we were between the two blasts it wasn't clear which way to run. I went toward Exeter and jumped the barricade to get off Boylston and to search for my dad as quickly as possible."

 "I think I was outside the Charlesmark Hotel walking to find my friend who had just crossed the finish line five minutes earlier. I stood there frozen when I heard the blast and then watched as terrified people ran past me. An injured woman walked by and I immediately went to check on her, telling her everything was alright even though I didn't know if it was. She was bleeding badly from her thigh so I took my sweatshirt off and tied it as tight as I could. Next thing I know, she was in a stretcher and the rest is mostly a blur of me wandering down Boylston Street, crying, covered in her blood with a dead cell phone and no way to find my sister."

These are just two of the powerful stories shared on boston.com by the many spectators and athletes who endured last year's tragedy at the Boston Marathon. It is a day that no one will ever forget: for that week, as law enforcement hunted the cowards behind the bombings, we were all Bostonians. There were many heroes that day — heroes that protected strangers and worked with first responders to tend to those who needed help. One of those heroes was now Boston Police Department Commissioner William Evans, the lifelong South Boston resident who led the tireless efforts of Boston's uniformed officers to find those responsible for attacking his city.

Now, Evans has a new mission: making sure such an attack never happens again. As he put it in an interview with AB, planning for this year's marathon, which takes place April 21st, has been intensive. Every day, he has been in meetings preparing for every possible scenario, making security and safety changes or adjustments to better protect his city and its marathon. This has also become the norm across the country for all open-access sporting events. Event and public safety managers have had to reexamine their own best practices for their events after Boston, as the attitude of "that could never happen at my event" no longer applies.

Organizations like the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) are playing a critical role in ensuring the future safety of these open-access events, working with safety and security experts to create a best practices document that will serve as a playbook for race directors and open-access event managers nationwide. And AB is doing its part, as well. Besides adding a monthly focus on safety and security, we are launching a new magazine supplement called Sports Venue Safety this summer that will be devoted solely to helping venues and events better manage the safety and security of their athletes, spectators and staff.

We all have a role to play, and like the heroes of Boston, united we will stand together to protect our people and the sports that we love.

 

Dennis Van Milligen is Editor in Chief of Athletic Business.