Race: Boston Marathon
Runner: Andrew K
Location: Boston, MA
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1521185508
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- City/Boston – Marathon Weekend in Boston is great. The entire city morphs from a Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins and Pats town into the mecca of running. Boston’s history is full of pride and the feel of the city on marathon weekend can really be special as runners descend from all over the world.
- Course – This course has it all. Downhills, late hills, crowds, flats. It’s really great course to push you mentally as you need to hold back, save for the back and keep pushing. It’s also a course of ‘Americana’ as you literally start by going down a one lane road, picket fences, home over 200 yrs old, small flag poles only to run to bit bigger town squares, taller flag poles ultimately into the city. It’s like going through the evolution of how cities became cities…
- Crowds – They really come out and are so great. BBQ on front lawns, porches full of people, kids wanting a high five into downtown Boston where the noise is so loud you ‘feel’ the noise in your body. They are proud of the marathon and it shows. They are proud of you for being there even though they don’t know you.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
- Weather – It’s notorious for shifting weather year to year. 2018 was especially epic but just know you could be doing a race in heat, wind, rain, cold as NE Springs has so much variability due to systems from the Great Lakes, Atlantic Ocean, etc.
- Bus Ride/Start – It goes smoothly, but taking a hour bus ride to the start super early, to sit around with no gear check can be hard to plan for. It makes your morning very different than you might expect.
- Expo / Bib Location – They have moved the expo to the trade center which is not convenient. It used to be right on Boylston near the finish which I preferred. The new spot makes it an endeavor you have to plan around.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Nothing to odd as they don’t allow costumes etc. I guess the Wellesly kissing line could be odd. The screams are awesome at near mid way but I guess some (including the married guy) might find the pleas for a kiss strange with young girls with homemade signs. It’s part of the history and I just giggle but it’s kinda weird.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
- Running with Meb! Meb Keflezighi was in my corral and running the first 10 with him was really special.
- Meeting Scott Jurek at the Expo was fun, telling him ‘hi’ from Coach Uli turned into a chat about Seattle running.
- Finishing. My goals were destroyed this year. But with the weather, having the flu 3 weeks prior, traveling six time zones all made the challenge somehow less about competing and more about completing. So when I stumbled across the finish, the medal meant so much more than any other year.
Lessons Learned – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner or yourself on the next time around
Prep for the morning by bringing clothes to donate. Bring trashbags to sit on and really think through your fueling strategy. Some people buy stuff at the Goodwill so they don’t have to give up their gear.
Save yourself and know that when you take a sharp right at the Newton Fire Station, it’s now ‘on’. This is where I think the challenge begins mentally and physically.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
1-10 Downhill. You can go tad faster but so easy to over do it.
10-18 – Flats to Rolling. Locking your pace.
18-22 – Hills. Late stage, not steep but subsequent progression is hard as you shift muscles.
22+ Bring it home.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Very well organized. It’s a machine and they really put on a world class event from newsletters months out, videos, Apps for your phone, partnerships with athletes and even Spotify for a custom running playlist etc.
Logistics – Anything special regarding getting to/from the race, hotels around the course, registration…?
Staying anywhere near the Common or Copley Sq is ideal but pricey. What you save in time, hassle is worth IMHO the extra money. Ask you hotel in advance if they have morning of marathon special breakfasts/hours to make sure you can eat. Prices surge this weekend so booking early before they enforce no cancellation is ideal so you can shift/bail as you need to.
Weather and typical race conditions
Expect anything. Boston weather is unique based on where it is geographically and how weather sets up in the Spring from the Great Lakes, Canada, Atlantic Ocean etc.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Yes, very. The route allows spectators to take subways/trains/cars out to the course. Anything within the last 1mi likely requires camping out from 9am on. If you have just a spouse etc, they can push their way to the fence on Boylston for 30mins when you expect to pass with a lot of smiles.
How’s the swag?
Great long sleeved T-shirt by Adidas. Goodie bag has little items like bottle openers, stickers etc. Most of the really good stuff is for sale so expect to blow up your credit card at the Expo as somehow you just really need that Boston Marathon Salad Bowl…and oh…Boston Marathon keychain….etc.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5 (of 5). It’s the grand daddy of them all with history and the only major that is a qualifier. You know when you get in at Boston, you are for a moment in a different echelon of runners for one day.