Natalie Shepherd / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- When the 36th annual Crescent City Classic kicks off this Saturday morning, returning runners will remember the beautiful course from downtown to City Park from last year.

But race director Eric Stuart said there are some big changes to this year's event.

'Everyone has to be aware of it now, so you have to increase your police, you have to increase your private security,' he said.

This year's race is just two days before the Boston Marathon. Stuart said the bombing in Boston last year forced a change in race security at events across the country in a way organizers never even imagined.

'No one even thought about it. The only reason we had security was in case someone got rowdy at the start,' he said.

The Crescent City Classic will still start down by the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but the area will be secure. Anyone entering the starting zone will be checked.

'There will be five entry points into the starting area. If you do carry a bag, you will be bag checked. Most runners don't carry a bag, but we do have strollers that are still allowed to stroll, so all strollers will be checked,' Stuart said.

The same goes for the finish line in City Park.

'Whereas in the past, people could just line the finish lines, there will be barricaded areas along both sides of the finish line, which you'll have to get back checked to get into that area,' Stuart said.

Race organizers spent six months working with a security consultant and law enforcement to increase security protocol.

Police officers will be manning every intersection along the course, making sure the more than 25,000 runners stay safe.

But family and friends are still encouraged to come cheer them on.

'Even at the secure start, if you want to come in and watch them and encourage them, before they get their run, we're allowing all of that still to happen, but just be aware that you're going to get bag checked,' he said.

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