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Recognition for Boston Marathoners

Boston_marathon_2 With today’s running of the Boston Marathon, it’s hard to put into words the excitement, challenge, and sense of accomplishment the participants will feel.

I’ve had the privilege of running Boston and there’s nothing quite like it.  It oozes with tradition. Out of respect for the marathoners who will be telling their stories, I’ll leave the race details to them.  But here are perhaps a few lesser-known notes about the Boston Marathon.

Humble Transportation.  Like nervous school kids, the runners take a one-hour ride on school buses from Tremont Square to Hopkinton, for the start of the race.

Modest Start.  Hopkinton is a sleepy little New England town west of Boston where the race starts on a nondescript two-lane highway .  Nothing fancy.  Just steeped in marathon tradition.  See Scenes From the Starting Line.

Quiet Miles.  Believe it or not, there are stretches in the early miles where there are no spectators along the course.  It's just rural.

Waiting Grounds. The race honors the marathoners by staging an Athlete’s Village, which is the campus of the local high school converted into a tented community to relax and concentrate.

Another Tradition.  There is always a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on marathon day.  Texas plays at 10:30 this morning.

It’s a holiday. The Boston Marathon is run on Patriot’s Day, which is a state holiday in Massachusetts commemorating the ride of Paul Revere.

A Lonely Marathon for One.  The race director runs the marathon later in the day, alone, with no media, starting hours after the race has finished.

The Hills are Alive.  Most of us have heard about the Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hill.  But there is also a stretch known as “Hell’s Alley” around mile 15, which beats up the runner.

Once more on Hills.  If your heart goes out to runners on the grueling hills, put your heart in the right place.  The reality is running down hill hurts far worse than running up.  Why?  Because careening down hill means constantly braking with your legs.  On my Boston experience, I learned to dread the sight of a a downhill and welcomed a chance to run uphill.  Really.

Citgo_sign Public Peeing is Outlawed. Signs by local residents implore runners not to urinate in their yards.  The town is crawling with wonderful volunteers, including cops, who won’t hesitate to fine you on the spot if caught.  You don't have to stop in mid-stream, but they record your race number, check the race registration list for your name, and mail you a nice fine.

A sign you can make it.  The gigantic CITGO sign is a huge emotional marker for runners as they approach downtown Boston, signaling they are within striking distance to make it to the finish on Boylston Street in Copley Square.

Enough background. 

Best wishes to all those running Boston today!

CITGO Sign on Flickr by Global Traveler 2007



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Joe Thorn

Great post Tom. Thanks for the information. I am watching to Boston Marathon now and didn't know most of this.


This was a really cool post, Tom. Thanks for the insider details.

Darin Swanson

Hope you had a good day Tom and enjoyed the unique race that is Boston.

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