The 121st B.A.A. Boston Marathon is only a few weeks away. It was only a couple of weeks ago when the temperatures here in Boston soared to above 70 degrees and we all started getting nervous about a possible “heat event” and what we would do if the temperatures went extremely high. Now as I look out my office window, we have about a foot of snow along the finish line of the race and the temperatures this past week have been in the single digits. So, forget about planning for any specific weather; we have to plan for just about ANYTHING – cold, hot, rain, snow, wind and if we are lucky, maybe even a decent day!!!
We are fortunate here in Boston that given the long history and the fact that there not a lot changes from year-to-year, we can select a slice or two out of the race and truly dissect it to the point where we can make improvements and enhancements which other races just don’t have the time or resources to do. As such, we have been credited with raising the bar and setting the standard in many important areas of race management.
Enough time has now passed since the bombings in 2013 that we can truly focus on the race again and get back to focusing mainly on putting on a high quality, highly competitive race. We will never forget what happened in 2013 and we will always remember those who were profoundly impacted; however, it’s good to get back to doing what we do best.
You as runners will not see many significant changes this year. The most significant change will be that the bus loading location is moving from Tremont Street to Charles Street adjacent to the Boston Common. Just about everything else remains the same as last year.
Security will once again be enhanced and very present everywhere – at the start, along the course and at the finish line. As I said about the 2014 Boston Marathon, this will be the safest place to be on the planet on April 17th!
One exciting addition to race weekend will be the airing of “Boston”, a full-length documentary on the history of the Boston Marathon. The documentary will be premiering on Saturday evening, April 15th, at 7pm at the Boch Wang Theatre in Boston. The show sold out immediately after tickets went on sale which is credit to the excitement which has been building for over two years now.
I’m a hand’s on race director, and as I always do, I did a training run of the entire course and was completely overwhelmed by the number of runners out on the course doing their last long 21-mile workout leading up to the race on April 17th. What a great weekend! There had to be at least 2,000 runners out on the course all working hard, and most with a smile on their faces. (They were probably just happy that this was their last long training run for this year’s Boston!)
As with every year around this time, (although we normally don’t have a lot of snow still on the ground), the excitement is building and you regularly see clips on the news about some of the amazing human interest stories surrounding the race. Already I’ve been told that about $20 million dollars have been raised by all the runners who are running for so many worthwhile causes. This is a 30% increase over the total raised at this time last year. This is all impressive and very inspiring, but most importantly, a testament to the dedication and commitment of all the participants. Boston brings the best out in everyone.
This year we have athletes from 99 countries and all 50 States including six former Boston Marathon Champions and 19 Olympians including the men’s world record holder in the marathon, Dennis Kimmetto from Kenya who set the record of 2:02:57 in the 2014 Berlin Marathon. And, to top it all off, we have another great American field running in the race with the likes of 2014 champion Meb Keflezighi, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Galen Rupp, 2016 Olympic team member Jared Ward and 4-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman. Also, Desiree Linden who finished second in 2011 is gunning to improve her position which can only mean she wants to wear the winner’s laurel wreath this year and we want her to do so, too! And, we can’t forget top American females Jordan Hasay (debut) and Olympian Blake Russell will also be competing.
Like you, I feel April 17th can’t come quick enough. But don’t let it slip by too quickly. Regardless of the time you hope to run, the place you hope to finish, the pictures you hope to take, spend time soaking up the reality that this is Boston – a race steeped in history, a race like no other. Spend time preparing to run your best race, but spend time making new friends. Spend time taking in a few pieces of Boston and the people and history that make it special. Spend time enjoying the fact that all your hard work has culminated in one amazing weekend. Focus on your goals…on success, but remember just getting to Boston was the amazing part.
And for my part as your race director I can promise you, the 121st running of the Boston Marathon is shaping up to be another epic race!!