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Boston Marathon athletes advised to refrain 'from kissing a stranger'

The pandemic-related safety measure is in response to the tradition of members of Wellesley College's all-female student body encouraging athletes with high-fives and sweaty smooches.

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Buried near the bottom of a statement about the upcoming Boston Marathon earlier this month is a unique, pandemic-related safety measure for athletes:

"Refraining from kissing a stranger around the halfway mark of the Boston Marathon," the Boston Athletic Association wrote in a statement about health and safety policies.

Without using the name, the statement is clearly in reference to the tradition of the "Scream Tunnel" at Wellesley College, which is located near the halfway mark. Members of the college's all-female student body are renowned for their loud cheers, encouraging signs, high-fives and sweaty smooches.

Some former students have told Runner's World that they kissed dozens or even hundreds of athletes during the race.

In the context of COVID-19, those kisses are being discouraged by the BAA. Similarly, the race organizers are encouraging runners to avoid accepting food or liquids from spectators.

Other precautions include requiring athletes to present their proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to pick up a racing bib at the Boston Marathon Expo.