121st Boston Marathon April 17th 2017
An American Classic and an Abbott World Marathon Major
The Boston Marathon ranks as one of the world’s most prestigious road races. It is the world’s oldest annual marathon and is described as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and method of gaining entry into the race (via a high standard qualification).
Runners everywhere strive to qualify for Boston. Any Boston finisher will tell you it’s an experience a runner never forgets and our clients at Sports Tours International are no exception!
Things you might not know about running Boston Marathon
1. You have to qualify to run Boston
The first reason Boston is so unique is that it’s a qualified race. In other words, in order to register for the race, you must have already run a marathon at a particular (relatively fast) pace. The Boston qualifying standard drives many people throughout their careers as a mark of achievement. But while the Boston Athletic Association wants the race to be challenging to get in, it doesn’t want to exclude non-elite runners. As a result, runners can enter Boston through charities and through tour operators as arranged through Sports Tours International. That makes Boston unlike almost any other “elite” event, because many of us have a shot of being in the same race as the absolute best runners in the world. When you spot someone wearing a Boston T-shirt or jacket, you know they met a high standard to get there.
2. Boston has a long and storied history
Boston is a tradition. The success of the first modern day Olympic marathon in 1896 inspired the first Boston race in 1897, making it the world’s oldest marathon as well as one of the oldest consecutively held sporting events. If you want to find tradition, you don’t need to look any further! Many historic moments took place on the road to Boston, including the famous 1982 “Duel in the Sun,” during which Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar battled to the top of the now-infamous “Heartbreak Hill.” It’s also the race in which Katherine Switzer became one of the first women to finish a marathon in 1967, despite almost being tackled by an event organiser, since, at the time, women weren’t allowed to participate in the race due to them being considered the “weaker” sex! This year, on the 50th anniversary, Katherine Switzer is running it again (Katherine completed the Marathon in 4 hours 41, only 21 minutes slower than her first unauthorised finish in 1967).
3. Boston has amazing spectators
Let the roar of the crowd carry you!! The Boston Marathon has some of the best spectators in the world. The marathon is held on Patriot’s Day, an official state holiday commemorating the battle of Lexington and Concorde, the first battle of the American Revolution. Most people have the day off to come out to the race and cheer. With the race course passing many colleges along the way, including an amazing stretch near Wellesley College, the Boston crowds are a kind of madness that really make the experience incredible. The “Wellesley Girls” also create a screaming, cheering line of humanity that will motivate just about any runner! Be prepared to be wowed …. and even offered a kiss!
4. It’s one of the 6 Abbott World Marathon Majors
Boston stands impressively alongside Berlin, NYC, Chicago, Tokyo and London. Animated conversation amongst runners usually references how many WMM runs they have completed and how many are left remaining! A number of our Sports Tours International runner are aiming to receive their WMM at Boston.
5. It’s now a place of remembrance.
Boston became an even more unifying and patriotic event for both runners and the city of Boston following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. In 2014, Boston proclaimed the day “One Boston Day” to remember the tragedy and honour the memory of those wounded and killed. It adds another layer to the importance of this race in many people’s hearts and memories.
Leading up to the BIG day!
After a long drawn out New England winter which seemed to have no end, the Weather Gods have certainly blessed “Marathon Weekend!” this weekend. In the UK, if someone is visiting and the sun is shining, the locals say, “Thank you – you brought the weather with you!”
Runners from all over the world are arriving. Some of them are proudly adorning Boston jackets from years gone by – veterans with their game face on. Others, with wide eyed anticipation and a thousand questions, prepare to run their first “Boston.” Boston qualifiers, charity runners and Sports Tours International runners are out in full force. Cafes are buzzing, streets are a sea of brightly coloured running kit leading to and from and around the Boston Expo. The energy is vibrant, hopeful and palpable. The talk is all “BOSTON!”
The Expo is an excellent event! Carefully laid out, it showcases the best and brightest of athletic wear, sports nutrition, electronics etc. Be prepared for some queuing and to drop some serious coin!!
The Wyndham Hotel, host hotel to the Sports Tours International, is a terrific venue. It is within walking distance to the Expo, offers a delicious breakfast selection as well as a pre-race pasta buffet thus negating the need to stand in the queue at the official pasta party at the City Hall. It is most convenient and feedback from Sports Tours International clients has been very favourable.
At Sports Tours International we are here to make your experience one you will never forget. Briefing meetings provide details about the event such as transportation arrangements to and from the respective start and finish line, water stop details, contingency plans, preparing for the warm temperatures and collection of the Abbott World Majors medal, etc etc.
Monday – RACE DAY:
Months of preparation and finally the big day! Line ups for the buses to the Hopkington start from Boston Common were amazing. The atmosphere was unbelievable. Runners reported having mixed emotions; butterflies the size of eagles, tremendous excitement, a healthy dose of self doubt and much anticipation of the race ahead.
Approximately 30,000 runners ran the legendary course that stretches for 26.2 miles through beautiful suburban streets right into the heart of downtown Boston. It’s on many a bucket list and its up hills and downhills have broken many a runner. Boston is a champion style race. There are no pacers for the elite, so each runner must be strategic. It is said that the real race starts at mile 20. Temperatures were unseasonably warm making it more challenging for the majority of entrants. That said, the tail wind provided a welcomed push as runners approached the finish line. Feedback from our clients was very positive, citing wonderful experiences.
It was a Kenyan sweep with Geoffrey Kirui and Edna Kiplagat winning the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, in their race debuts. No surprises then! That said, whether you are an elite runner pursuing the dream of winning Boston or you are just challenging yourself, you are all winners!
And we don’t need to look too far for “winners!”
Our own Sports Tour International runner, Becs’ from Leighton Buzzard, ran but didn’t finish Tokyo this past February having just recovered from a bout of cancer. Battered but not broken, Becs’ celebrated her birthday in April by running the Brighton marathon. Shortly after, she crossed the finish line in Boston in a time of 7:18. In 7 days, Becs’ will again go head to head with the distance as she toes the line at the London marathon. Now that’s inspirational!
The evening offered various receptions to celebrate the great feat accomplished. Some runners preferred to stay at the Wyndham and relax with others of a similar mindset. Others headed for the post race celebration at Fenway Park. Regardless of the venue, stories were told and good cheer ensued! Congratulations!
Thank you for allowing me this amazing opportunity to be your guide.
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