Author's Note: This is the first of three posts looking into the Boston Marathon. As a caveat, while I run Marathon Nation, I have only run Boston twice, both times hitting 3:12:xx when aiming for a sub-3:10 finish. I live local to the course and will be running again in 2011, this time aiming for a sub-3 finish if all goes according to plan.
The Boston Marathon is the holy grail for many marathon runners. The unique qualification system and stringent timing standards mean that only a small percentage of the marathoner population is eligible to participate. Unless you are a charity runner, your only option is to spend years getting fitter and faster?and then having the perfect race to qualify.
Once you are in, however, there is no one true path to having a great day. The Boston Marathon is also distinguished by its course: a point-to-point affair with significant hills that start at mile 17, culminating in the infamous Heartbreak Hill. Are you excited yet? Let's dig in!
The 2011 Build Up
A few registration glitches, particularly around under-estimating the number of folks who would want to participate in 2011, led to a system crash and many qualified folks not getting into the race.
This year, more than 30,000 runners will toe the line in three distinct waves, a new approach to ease the congestion on the starting line. With the overall competitive level of the field tempered by the participation of a significant number of charity runners, event organizer face the unique challenge of moving a very disparate number of runners across the course in a short period of time.
The BAA has already adjusted it's qualification standards for 2013. In addition, eligible folks will have the change to register on a sliding-time scale based on their actual qualifying time. In other words, faster folks will be able to register sooner than their counterparts who just made the cut off.
Race Weekend Logistics
You have to know where you are staying and where to go. Your best bet for all your transportation and logistical guidance is the official marathon website. For a daily breakdown of activities, you can view this simple set of planning pages. If it's personal planning and checklists you need, don't forget to download our Race Planner worksheet to make the most of your pre-race planning.
The Boston Expo is one of the biggest in the running world; even if you aren't participating and need to pick up your bib number, it's worth stopping by to rub shoulders with the elite and check out the latest and greatest products on the market. Details are below, but the main info page will help direct you.
Hynes Convention Center
900 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02115
Friday, April 15, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 16, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 17, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Boston Marathon is known for its spectators. Having run twice, I can personally attest to the fact that almost every single mile of the entire course is full of cheering fans. The city loves the race, and support for the event is facilitated by a city holiday (Patriot's Day) and a midday Yankees / Red Sox game in Fenway. In addition to the standard text message tracking, they have provided a course map as a download.