First held in 1897 the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s best-known road racing events. Held on Monday, Patriots Day, this was the 123rd consecutively run Boston Marathon. It’s course runs inland from the small town of Hopkinton eastward to the city of Boston Massachusetts. All entrants have to complete a certified marathon in a preset time to gain a coveted Boston Qualifier places and compete.
When I arrived late on Friday Boston was already buzzing with marathon energy. Number collection on Saturday went smoothly at the Expo which had a huge selection of running paraphernalia and samples on offer. Many shorter races take place over the weekend so there’s plenty going on. I also enjoyed the included pre-race pasta party on Sunday to carb load and chat with other runners. There’s also post race party at Fenway Park. The city gets very busy over marathon weekend but its accessible and everyone is friendly and supportive of all the runners.
On a chilly race morning as I took to the subway the heavens opened with a thunderstorm delivering torrential rain and flooding the city streets. Dropping my kit bag and waiting in line on Boston Common for the yellow American school bus transport to the start left everyone soaked through. After the hour long bus journey we arrived in Hopkinton where it had stopped raining although the school field used as the athletes village compared well to scenes from Glastonbury! Another hour went by and my start wave, number two of four waves, was finally off.
From the start the course runs downhill for the first few miles and with adrenaline running high this made pacing challenging. The route takes in eight towns and cities along the way with fantastic spectator support, bands and hand-outs with water stations every mile. Just before halfway there is the ‘Wellesley Scream Tunnel’ where hundreds of students from the all-female college wave fun signs, offer high fives and kisses while loudly cheering the runners on! By mile 16 the sun had come out and it was a real boost to have my brother Matt cheering me on at Newton but this also came with 21 degree heat. After mile 16 comes the Newton Hills which are four successive hill climbs culminating at mile 20 in the infamous ‘Heartbreak Hill’. Many runners are ‘hitting the wall’ with low energy at this point and succumb to fatigue on the hill. Although I tackled the hills well it sapped my strength and unfortunately left my legs cramping during the final miles. Running the best I could to the finish line on Boylston Street and the famous blue and yellow painted finish line was simply incredible and I finished in 3:21:21.
After the race I was astounded by the constant congratulations, recognition and support to anyone wearing a finishers top or medal by so many Bostonians. An amazing experience from start to finish!