It has been about a week since we all returned back to the sunshine state from Boston, MA and the craziness that is Marathon weekend in New England. About 15 of us from the Gainesville area (plus some members from our FTC West contingent) represented the club in arguably the most prestigious marathon on the planet.
I did not run the marathon myself, yet I traveled back to the place of my childhood (and early adulthood) to partake in the festivities and to support the marathoning heroes in our club. I also made the BAA 5k on the Saturday prior to the marathon a key focus race for me this spring.
Some reasons why Boston is so special:
*It is held every year on the third Monday in April. This is known as Patriots Day. Only Massachusetts and Maine officially celebrate this holiday. Schools and government offices are closed for the day. Watching the marathon is a given if you grow up in MA. If the marathon falls on April 15th, we all get an extra day to file our taxes.
*Boston was inspired by the 1st Modern Olympics in 1986.
*World's oldest continuously run marathon. Not even two World Wars stopped Boston.
*The course elevation has a net downhill (by a few hundred feet). You also start on a downhill. BUT you also endure several large hills throughout a section called the Newton Hills. This occurs rather dramatically around mile 18 in the course.
*Boston has been the site of several important revolutionary events in the women's running movement; see: Roberta Gibb and Kathrine Switzer
*The fastest marathon in history was run by Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02!!!!). This does not count as an official world record, however, because of the net downhill nature of the course.
*In order to run Boston, you first need to qualify. Qualifying standards are adjusted based on age and gender. For instance: 18-34 M 3:05, 18-34 W 3:35, 35-39 M 3:10, 35-39 W 3:40, 40-44 M 3:15, 40-44 W 3:45, 45-49 M 3:25, 45-49 W 3:55, 50-54 M 3:30, 50-54 W 4:00, 55-59 M 3:40, 55-59 W 4:10, 60-64 M 3:55, 60-64 W 4:25, 65-69 M 4:10, 65-69 W 4:40, etc.
*Race director Dave McGillvray runs the course every year - after all the finishers are done.
*The race starts in Hopkinton, MA. Pop: 14,925 (except on Patriots Day!)
* Joan Benoit Samuelson set a Women's World Record here of 2:22:43 in 1983. She would go on to win gold in the first women's Olympic marathon the next summer in Los Angeles. Joan ran this year's Boston Marathon in 2:54:03. She is 57.
*Every year the Red Sox play a home game starting at 11:05AM. When the game ends, the crowd pours into Kenmore Square, which is at mile 25 of the course.
Not sure if this story made much of a splash locally, but in New England this winter, this guy was a local hero:
He is a bartender at one of the establishments near the finish line. Boston endured some ferocious snow storms this winter. Even before the plows could clear Boylston Street (one of the main thoroughfares in the city), this guy took it upon himself to clear the finish line. To New Englanders and to those who have experienced this race, this is sacred ground. It is more than just a race.
Boston is special. It captivates you. It inspires you. And it will humble you. I hope to go back next year and the next and the next....