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Race Review: Abbott World Majors Boston Marathon

16 May, 2019 • by Admin

Runners must qualify for entry by meeting time standards corresponding to gender and age, which is unique to the Boston Marathon.

Inspired by their experience at the 1896 Olympic Games, several members of the Boston Athletic Association founded their own marathon in 1897. The race has been run every year since (though the 1918 edition featured a military relay rather than an individual race) and is now the world's oldest annual marathon.

Summary

The Boston Marathon is an annual marathon race hosted by several cities in greater Boston in eastern Massachusetts, United States. It is always held on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April. Begun in 1897, the event was inspired by the success of the first marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics. The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's best-known road racing events. It is one of six World Marathon Majors. Its course runs from Hopkinton in southern Middlesex County to Copley Square in Boston.

The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has organized this event since 1897, and it has been managed by DMSE Sports, Inc. since 1988. Amateur and professional runners from all over the world compete in the Boston Marathon each year, braving the hilly Massachusetts terrain and varying weather to take part in the race.

The event attracts 500,000 spectators each year, making it New England's most widely viewed sporting event. Though starting with 15 participants in 1897, the event now attracts an average of about 30,000 registered participants each year, with 30,251 people entering in 2015. The Centennial Boston Marathon in 1996 established a record as the world's largest marathon with 38,708 entrants, 36,748 starters, and 35,868 finishers.

  • Largest field: 35,868
  • Inaugural running: 1897
  • Estimated spectators: 500,000
  • Prize purse: $868,000
  • Time & record bonus: $220,000

Records

  • Men: 2:03:02 (Geoffrey Mutai, KEN, 2011)
  • Women: 2:19:59 (Buzunesh Deba, ETH, 2014)
  • Men's Wheelchair: 1:18:04 (Marcel Hug, SUI, 2017)
  • Women's Wheelchair: 1:28:17 (Manuela Schar, SUI, 2017)

Course

Both the start and finish lines have been moved over the years, but much of the original course remains exactly as it was originally designed. Since 1924 the race has begun in the town of Hopkinton, and from there the point-to-point course descends through Ashland, Framingham, Natick and Wellesley. Upon entering Newton, the course gradually rises to the famous Heartbreak Hill. As runners reach the top, they can see downtown Boston for the first time, four miles in the distance. After running through Brookline, the course enters Boston where it finishes on historic Boylston Street.

boston map

The Boston Marathon is considered to be one of the more difficult marathon courses because of the Newton hills, which culminate in Heartbreak Hill near Boston College. While the three hills on Commonwealth Avenue (Route 30) are better known, a preceding hill on Washington Street (Route 16), climbing from the Charles River crossing at 16 miles (26 km), is regarded by Dave McGillivray, the long-term race director, as the course's most difficult challenge. This hill, which follows a 150-foot (46 m) drop in a 1⁄2 mile (800 m) stretch, forces many lesser-trained runners to a walking pace.

Expo

This was by far the largest, busiest and craziest expo  probably at least twice the size of any other. The expo featured everything from the official merchandise, including stuffed unicorns (the mascot of the Boston Athletic Association, who runs the marathon), to all kinds of massage devices to every kind of electrolyte drink imaginable to protein snacks and clothing.

There’s lots of stuff to buy and see and take for free. If that’s not your kind of thing, then you’ll hate it. It’s fun to see people and the newest gear, but you could easily spend a few hours just walking around and that’s not a fantastic idea before a race, right? And, besides, it’s hard not to feel a little judgmental about everyone trying to prove how super awesome they are.

Race day

The race has traditionally been held on Patriots' Day, a state holiday in Massachusetts, and until 1969 that was every April 19, whichever day of the week that fell on. Starting in 1969, the holiday was observed on the third Monday in April and so the marathon date was correspondingly fixed to that Monday, often referred to by local residents as "Marathon Monday".

The starting times for 2019 were:

  • Men’s Push Rim Wheelchair: 9:02 a.m.
  • Women’s Push Rim Wheelchair: 9:04 a.m.
  • Handcycles and Duos: 9:25 a.m.
  • Elite Women: 9:32 a.m.
  • Elite Men: 10 a.m.
  • Wave One: 10:02 a.m.
  • Wave Two: 10:25 a.m.
  • Wave Three: 10:50 a.m.
  • Wave Four: 11:15 a.m.

Security

Not only are public drinking and open containers banned along the race route as in the past, but carrying items that police have asked be left at home might hold you up at the numerous security checkpoints, where guards will inspect spectators’ belongings. Those items include backpacks, suitcases and roller bags, coolers, handbags, glass containers, bulky packages, large blankets and sleeping bags, weapons, costumes with masks, military-style props, and fireworks.

Security will be especially tight at the Boylston Street finish line near Copley Square and at other venues for Marathon-related events. From wherever spectators watch the race, police ask them to remain alert to their surroundings and call 911 immediately if they see any suspicious activity or need emergency help.

Spectators

spectators

There were kids of all ages along the course. Many holding signs or trying to get high fives from runners. Some handing out water or lemonade. Some without even rain coats. Apparently there were 9,500 volunteers for the Boston Marathon helping with the expo, pre-race and post-race. There were police out blocking the course, many people handing out both water and Gatorade on both sides of the course, people holding signs with arrows, people handing out cliff shots

Finish Line

The last miles of the race is all flat and downhill. The flat is actually preferable over the downhill in these miles. Your quads are feeling it. The crowds are especially awesome through the last leg. Everyone knows you’ve conquered the hills and you’re heading to the finish. The conviction in their cheers gives you confidence to keep moving as fast as you possibly can.

As you close in on the last half mile, an overwhelming sense of excitement hits you. I get chills just thinking about it. Then you turn left on Boylston Street and what you’ve been anticipating all day is right in front of you: the finish line. The crowds are louder than they’ve been all day and there’s nothing left to do but run as hard as you can until you’ve passed that archway at 26.2.

Recap

2018 was a wet and wild experience - never once did we see clear skies in our 4 days in Boston. However, it didn't dampen the spirits of the participants or volunteers. Boston Marathon is the marathon to run and participate in and once you run it you know why. This historic course is net-downhill and you feel it at around mile 13 when it starts to flatten out. But the course support lifts you up the Newton Hills and soon you're flying down the last hill onwards to Boston proper.

The race itself was still amazing! The expo is the best you can go to in the country without question and the number of supporters on the course despite the weather was truly inspiring!

There are marathons with more scenic courses, easier courses and better weather. But there is only one Boston Marathon! Being able to say you qualified and finished the Boston Marathon is a worthy milestone and lifetime memory to cherish for any runner. If you get a chance, do it!

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