It’s that time of year again. The Boston Marathon is just weeks away and approximately 36,000 runners (up 25% from 2013!) are finishing their training, anticipating the 3rd Monday of April. Race Day.
A Brief History
The 1896 Olympic Games in Athens brought the marathon to the forefront of society, as it was run on an international level for the first time. The city of Boston capitalized on that excitement the following spring, launching a now 118-year old tradition: The Boston Marathon. Boston officials selected the newly founded holiday of Patriot’s Day for the race. As a day meant to commemorate the Revolutionary War Battles of Lexington and Concord, Patriots’ Day instilled American values into the very heart of the marathon.
Few changes have been made since that inaugural race, though until 1924, the length of the Boston Marathon was only 24.5 miles. As races became standardized around the world, officials adjusted the length to the 26 miles and 385 yards length we know today.
So, what does it take to master those 26.2 historical miles?
What It Takes to Run Boston
The Boston Marathon is the marathon to aspire to for many runners. Training begins months, if not years in advance. Prior to race day, each potential Boston Marathon runner must complete a certified course with a qualifying time. For instance, an 18-34 year-old male must complete the race in no more than 3 hours and 5 minutes. That qualifying time increases with each age bracket.
Whereas someone preparing for the NYC Half-Marathon may only have trained for a couple of months, most coaches would recommend 12-20 weeks before attempting a first marathon. After selecting the right training plan, it’s also important for every runner to find the right gear. Shoes and socks can make all the difference in a runner’s comfort with today’s breathable fabrics and moisture-wicking technologies. Once outfitted for success, many potential marathoners start on a path of shorter races, 5ks, 10ks, etc. They build up to their first 26.2-mile trek. Most also choose a less conspicuous marathon to complete before gearing up for the iconic New England course.
What Boston Marathoners Can Expect
Once headed to the Boston Marathon, runners should be prepared for an adrenaline rush like never before. The event draws a crowd of 500,000 spectators, tons of media, and elite athletes with jaw-dropping finishing times.
What’s more, runners must conquer a notoriously difficult route. The Boston Marathon is known for its arduous hills. Starting off with a nice downward stretch, the dreaded up-hill battle commences at mile 16. There, four peaks known as the “Newton Hills” await runners. The four culminate at mile 20 with a stretch known as “Heartbreak Hill.” For those running, make sure to have your support team cheering from the sidelines around miles 20-21. Luckily, hundreds of supportive locals will add to the cheers buzzing in your ears, pushing you over that final hump.
There’s No Crowd Like the Boston Marathon Crowd
Those screaming, encouraging fans only multiple as you approach the finish line. The more your body begs you to stop, the more the crowd rallies you on, one step at the time. Finally, that glorious moment approaches - the moment when you cross the Boston Marathon finish line. The moment when you become part of a 118-year tradition – a tradition that draws some of the finest athletes from around the world.
The John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo
In the days leading up to the marathon, more than 200 exhibitors will gather at the 36th annual John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo. Wigwam and other fitness brands will be there, helping runners gear up for race day and offering promotional items. The Expo, which runs April 18-20, is open to the public and will host over 100,000 attendees.
Looking Toward the Finish Line
This year’s marathoners will be looking toward the future and continuing the glorious American tradition that is the Boston Marathon.