Race: Boston Marathon 2018
Runner: Ather H
Location: Boston, MA
Results: 3:07:08, (2862th place off 26948 starts!)
Strava Activity Link: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2628955581
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- If I were the most interesting man in the world, I’d say “I don’t normally run road races, but when I do, it’s either Boston or qualifying for it”.
- I ran my first Boston in 2014 and that was my way of honoring those who lost their lives or were injured during the 2013 Boston marathon bombings. This year was my third. Boston is special because it attracts runners from all over the world. The diversity is electrifying and the crowd, galvanizing. Despite the weather this year, Bostonians showed up, cheering for the runners all the way to the finish.
- Finally, it is really the thousands of volunteers who make this race a success.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
The weather was a bit of a challenge this year but you’ve probably heard that by now! Many of us had to wait (shivering in the cold and rain) upwards of an hour near the gear check, after crossing the finish line. The gear check is divided by bib numbers and given that at Boston, your bib number is your seeding, numbers close to each other, finish close to each other as well. The gear check stalls catering to a certain bib range was crowded whereas the rest were empty. Hopefully they can fix this by having, say, 9 sections, based on the first number of your bib.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
- Boston was ‘men’s only’ until 1972. Kathrine Switzer famously entered as “KV Switzer” in 1967 and was nearly stopped by an official. She was able to dodge away and finish.
- This year, the finish rate for women was higher than men, despite the conditions. Take that, race director(s) of 1960s!
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
- It was fun to strike conversations with fellow race participants and hear their stories on the bus ride to Hopkington and also at the village.
- I brought extra clothes to the start and was adequately prepared for the weather (given we spend at least 2 hours at the village before the race start at 10am). This included extra fleece, rain poncho and hand warmers. For a race like Boston where there is a noticeable wait time at the start, I highly recommend looking at the weather forecast and dressing accordingly. This implies including throw away clothes. There are clothes bins at the start and the clothes you shred away, get donated.
Lessons Learned – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner or yourself on the next time around
I underestimated the hail and headwind and decided to race in a t-shirt. I left my rain jacket at the gear check (so that I could collect it after crossing the finish line) and in hindsight, I should’ve worn it, like Desiree! It was cold all through the 26.2 miles. At times we had wind gusts and hail and by mile 17, I was shivering uncontrollably and not able to sustain the core temperature.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The early downhills can easily entice runners into a faster-than-planned start. The latter half of Boston has a few short climbs including the famous heartbreak hill so starting conservatively definitely helps.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
It’s Boston! Despite the weather, we had 7000+ volunteers show up and help out at the race.
Logistics – Anything special regarding getting to/from the race, hotels around the course, registration…?
Hotels book out months in advance. I had luck booking hostels at the last minute a couple of times in the past (Boston backpackers hostel is 10 min train ride away from the finish). Having said that, if you are planning to run Boston, it is recommended that you book a hotel 8-10 months in advance (before you officially apply!)
Weather and typical race conditions
My first Boston (2014) was 80+F degrees and sunny. 2015 was rainy and in the 50’s – sort of like Seattle weather. This year definitely stands out in terms of the adverse weather conditions. There was ice on the roads in Hopkington when we arrived and it hailed on us multiple times during the race.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
While that number may have been lower than usual this year, upwards of half a million people show up to cheer on the runners – it is definitely one of the most spectated races in the world. The traffic is super slow moving on race day however so plan accordingly.
How’s the swag?
The unicorn medal is pretty cool. The full sleeve tee is one of my favorites for cold weather running. A lot of people purchase the boston ‘celebration’ jacket.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
11/10. Boston is special – will definitely go back and run every few years, as long as I continue to qualify.