The Boston Marathon And Amateur Radio: A Winning Combination

N1XKB and KD1CY at NCSOver 250 Amateurs participated in Amateur Radio communications for the 113th running of the Boston Marathon. The 2009 Boston Marathon had over 26,000 official runners with over 500,000 spectators along the 26-mile route. Amateur Radio Operators assisted at the start line, course and finish line with 2-3 Amateurs staffed at each water and first aid station along the route with additional Amateur Operators at the start and finish.

“This is the largest public service event in terms of number of Amateur Radio Operators required for a one day event and we can always use more” said Marathon Amateur Radio Communications (MARC) Course Coordinator, Steve Schwarm-W3EVE. “We are glad that the weather is cool and the number of ambulance requests for this year were lower than past years where we had higher temperatures and more medical issues” Schwarm said.

“The medical tents at the finish line were near capacity by 3 PM Monday as reported in a situation report by Western Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator, John Ruggerio-N2YHK, who is assisting in operations at the finish line. Hams are providing communications, status and logistical issue updates between the tents to our finish line net control as needed” said MARC Finish line coordinator Paul Topolski-W1SEX.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) was active with operations at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Framingham Massachusetts. The operations room acted as the Unified Command Center or UCC for the operation as has been the case in the past. RACES Amateur Radio Operators staffed the communications room within the SEOC with one Amateur Radio Operator, Eastern Massachusetts ARRL Section Manager, Mike Neilsen-W1MPN, staffing the Unified Command Center to feed status reports on any issues along the marathon route into the operations room and to feed issues from the UCC to the operations room.

“This is the first time we’ve had an Amateur Radio Operator in the operations room of the UCC. We have been coordinating with the Boston Marathon Net Control and the finish line communications in Boston to provide updates into our station and to our Amateur Radio Operator in the UCC” said Tom Kinahan-N1CPE, Massachusetts State RACES Radio Officer.

The net control center is at a location with line of sight to the Boston area and to the entire 26-mile route in case simplex communication is required. Over a dozen repeaters are utilized to provide overlapping coverage to the marathon route. Karen Brothers-K1KEB has coordinated the Net Control with assistance from her husband Dennis Brothers-N1DB. Bob Phinney-K5TEC, Bob DeMattia-K1IW and Kevin Paetzold-K1KWP assisted with the technical aspects of the net control setup. The Clay Center Amateur Radio Club, Minuteman Repeater Association, Framingham Amateur Radio Association, and many other clubs in the New England area support marathon operations.

With so many Amateurs displaced along the marathon route, Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator, Rob Macedo-KD1CY, placed Eastern Massachusetts ARES on stand-by in case something goes wrong along the marathon route or another major incident occurred coincident with the marathon. “This is standard operating procedure for ‘Marathon Monday’. We want our people to maintain a heightened state of awareness during the event” Macedo said. Macedo was stationed at the net control center providing liaison between the net control center and the State Emergency Operations Center and finish line, provided status reports to the SEOC and assisted with any logistical issues as they occurred.

Shown above: N1XKB and KD1CY at BAA Marathon Net Control, W1M in Brookline, MA

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