Your Ultimate Guide to Boston Marathon Weekend and Marathon Monday
Here are tips for how to commute, which racers to watch for, where to celebrate, and more.
It’s that time of year, folks. For months, runners-in-training have been passing you on the street, wisps of wind following them in their wake. Yes, that’s right, the ultra-prestigious, annual Boston Marathon is finally here. And because we know that in all its craziness, the weekend can be a marathon in itself, we’ve scoped out everything along the 26.2-mile course and beyond to find out where you can watch, which runners to keep track of, what to do for fun, and more throughout the weekend and on Marathon Monday.
Accommodations: Many hotels in the area have special offers when it comes to the Boston Marathon including deals, great views, and proximity to the race. Both the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and The Lenox Hotel have views of the final mile, but be sure to call the hotel directly to make sure you’re in a room facing the street. Hotel Commonwealth and The Eliot Hotel are each a block away from the finish line, so they are perfect options for runners to retreat to without having to travel a long way after the race.
Parking: Throughout race week, parking in Back Bay is a nightmare with course setup and planning happening. If you do have to park, however, the garages at 100 Clarendon and the Prudential Center are the two closest to the race, making them your best bets for marathon parking. Be careful though! Many roads are closed the day of the marathon, making driving even more difficult. Boston streets will close as early as 6 a.m. on race day, with some not opening up again until 6 p.m.
The MBTA: The best option, as usual in Boston, is the MBTA. Though some bus routes will be diverted on the day of the race, the T should run smoothly, as the trains run on a tighter schedule to support the crowds. The commuter rail has several stops to choose from: The Ashland station drops you off near the clock tower at Mile 4 and is only a short walk to the race. To watch at Wellesley College, take the rail to Wellesley Square at the half, and Wellesley will be a short backtrack on the course to the 20K. The Back Bay stop will take you all the way to the finish line.
Specifically, the Green Line: In the city (if you dare to brave the crowds) the Green Line is the way to go. At the Woodland stop on the D Line, you can watch the race from Newton. The B Line will take you to the Boston College stop near Mile 21. The Cleveland Circle stop on the C line is a nice spot to watch the race, where restaurants line both sides of the street and where you can take a casual walk around Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Downtown, all the major Green Line stops will be open the day of the race except for Copley, where the race ends, so hop off either at Hynes or Arlington to find your way to the finish line. Visit MBTA.com for a full list of Boston Marathon T schedules.
About 500,000 spectators line up along the 26.2-mile course each year to watch the marathon, New England’s most widely viewed sporting event, and that makes finding the perfect spot a challenge. Starting in Hopkinton, the course winds through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, and Brookline before reaching the finish in the heart of Downtown Boston near Copley Square.
Just a few of the best places to watch: In Hopkinton at the starting line, see the runners at their brightest. At Mile 12, watch the Wellesley women dole out kisses, just before runners reach the half.
At Mile 21, you can watch the race at Boston College. The energy after Heartbreak Hill will be especially powerful this year as Boston College graduate and the school’s assistant track coach Tim Ritchie will be running. His cheering section, put on by Heartbreak Hill Running Company, will be rooting for him loudly and proudly. You can join the Run with Heart cheering section online—show up prepared to dole out high fives.
If you’re looking to see runners give everything they’ve got in the home stretch, join Red Sox fans at Kenmore Square and Fenway with what will likely be the liveliest crowds on the entire route. And of course, downtown, you can hang out at Copley Square as racers complete the journey.
For a detailed map of the event with sponsors, mile-markers, and landmarks along the route, check out the official Boston Marathon course map.
Can’t stand the crowds? You can watch the race from the comfort of your own home at watchlive.baa.org or on WBZ-TV.
With runner’s from last year’s race deferred to 2013 because of the heat, more than 400 runners will be coming back to compete this year, along with this years’ participants. Assuming this year’s wacky weather doesn’t wipe everyone out, here’s who you should look for:
Defending champion Wesley Korir from Kenya is returning this year to compete in the Elite Men’s category. Korir has just won another race as well: he was recently elected to Kenyan parliament. Though he doesn’t have the fastest marathon time of the group, his knowledge of the route could have him sprinting across the finish line first again.
Gebregziabher Gebremariam is worthy competition for Korir. He achieved his personal best at the Boston Marathon in 2011. Though the heat caught up to Gebremariam last year, he could put up a good fight this time around.
After the top seed in the Men’s Elite, Moses Mosop from Kenya (who holds the second fastest time for the Boston Marathon course) and Ryan Hall (who holds the American record for the Boston Marathon) both dropped out of the race due to injuries, the title has opened up. Will Korir be victorious again? Check out all of the men’s elite runners.
At the top of the personal best list for this year’s marathon are Aselefech Medessa Mergia and Meseret Hailu Debele, Ethiopians with course records in Dubai and Amsterdam, respectively. Coming in first at the Boston Marathon last year and third in the 2011 race is Sharon Cherop-yes, another Kenyan who is definitely familiar with the course.
And don’t forget your Boston pride folks, because we have one of our own vying for the top this year! Seeded in 10th place for the women’s elite, Shalane Flanagan finished third in the 1,000-meter race at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She has two more Olympians competing against her, including American Kara Goucher, who’s vying for a win after two top-five finishes in Boston.
Also in the lineup is American Serena Burla, who was diagnosed with cancer in her right leg in 2010. After a hamstring removal in February, Burla didn’t know if she would ever run again, but by November 2011, she had finished top-20 in the New York City Marathon. Check out the full list of women’s elite runners.
Other Notable Runners:
The Boston Marathon also marks milestones for some runners, including Gina Chupka, who is running her 53rd marathon this year. Once she crosses the finish line, Chupka will have met her goal of 50 marathons in 50 states.
As the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division, starting in 1975, the Boston Marathon is split into several waves of racers.
The wheelchair division will kick off the marathon at 9:17 a.m., followed by handcycle competitors at 9:22. This year, a special bronze statue at the starting line will be revealed to honor Dick, 72, and Rick Hoyt, 51, according to Today. The father-son team has competed in more than 1,000 athletic competitions, with Dick pushing his son Rick, diagnosed with cerebral palsy after birth, through the races in his wheelchair. The wheelchairs will be reaching the finish around 10:41 a.m.
At 9:32 a.m., the Elite Women take off. You can expect them at the finish around 11:56 a.m. The Elite Men will be about 15 to 20 minutes behind, starting at 10 a.m. and finishing at about 12:08 p.m.
Around noon, you can take a lunch break—or you can watch your lunch run by you. At 12 p.m., a group of 13 burgers will sprint off from the start line. The B. Good “Burger Brigade” has been running for charity for four years now, and this year, all of these burgers plan to cross the finish line in just under four hours, according to the Huntington News.
Is one of your loved ones running? Through AT&T’s Athlete Alert Program, you can keep track of exactly where your runner is. By signing up for the program, you will receive updates when your runner reaches the 10k, half, 30K, and finish marks. You can even text your runner a pick-me-up message that will appear on three big screens along the course.
For runners strong enough to rally for a second wind, the Mile 27 after-party will be held at the House of Blues from 6-10 p.m. All runners receive a free ticket to the event, but friends and family can buy tickets as well at the weekend expo (more info below).
Though Marathon Monday is the main event, events all weekend will amp us up for Boston Marathon excitement.
Red Sox and Fenway: In traditional Boston manner, the Red Sox are supporting the marathon with a special marathon-weekend package. Experience the heart of the city at Fenway Park for the Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, games against the Tampa Bay Rays as a VIP with a private tour of the park, Red Sox swag, and more, for $397; or upgrade to reserve a bleacher seat to watch the marathon and receive other perks for an extra $199.
John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo: With more than 200 exhibitors, the annual Sports & Fitness Expo will be open at Hynes Convention Center on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Though the expo is the primary pick-up location for the runners, it is free, open to the public, and will have many inspirational speakers and events to get spectators excited for the marathon. From goodies to giveaways, the weekend expo is a sure bet for excitement and pre-race energy boosts. Plus, it’ll be a great place to gear up with all of the best products for runners.
Pre-Race Dinner: Carb0-load with the runners at the pre-race dinner at City Hall Plaza near Faneuil Hall on Sunday, 4:30-8 p.m. Show your support for the runners by attending the event, and get a little entertainment on the side with a live performance at the dinner. Tickets can be purchased at the Sports & Fitness Expo for $20, but all runners eat for free.
Kids’ Relay Challenge: Watch Boston’s fastest kids try their feet out for size with the annual Relay Challenge, put on by the Boston Athletic Association. These group-oriented relay races allow kids throughout Boston the chance to participate in Marathon Monday without the stress of a full 26.2-mile marathon.
Distance Medley: The Distance Medley, the annual 5K, will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday on Boylston Street between Clarendon and Berkeley Streets. With $5,000 at stake, each for the men’s and women’s winners, this race launches the weekend’s competitions into full gear.
Invitational Mile: Following the Distance Medley, Boston youth runners will show off their speed at the Invitational Mile. Middle schoolers from towns along the marathon route will start the races with a 1K, and high schoolers will follow, sprinting a three-lap race to the marathon finish line.
Midnight Marathon Bike Ride: And the marathon celebrations won’t stop through Sunday night. The night before the race, Boston cyclists prove that the runner’s aren’t the only athletes to claim this city’s streets. Hosted by BostonSOS, hundreds of bikers (more than 700 came out last year) will meet at South Station at 10 p.m. the night before the run for the fifth annual Midnight Marathon Bike Ride. From there, the route will be filled with spinning pedals and wheels.
So you just ran the Boston Marathon. Now it’s time to meet your family and friends at the Family Meeting Area on St. James Avenue and get yourself a drink. You earned it! Here are some places to grab a bite or relax with a beer after the race, as well as some restaurants with great views where your cheerleaders can watch you sprint to the finish.
T.J. Spirits: If you live closer to the start of the race, no need to head to Beacon or Boylston to enjoy yourself. T.J. Spirits is one of the many bars serving Samuel Adams signature 26.2 brew in honor of the race. With a slightly lower alcohol content than their other brands, this is the perfect drink for Marathon Monday. T.J. Spirits, 355 W. Union St., 508-881-1565
Cityside: For a panoramic view of the race that can’t be beat, arrive early to Cityside (open at 9 a.m. on Marathon Monday) to snag a table on their rooftop patio. With affordable draughts and fishbowls, this restaurant also offers wonderfully greasy bar food that reminds you: “You’re watching the marathon, not running it.” Cityside, 1960 Beacon St., 617-566-1002, citysidebar.com
Eastern Standard: If you want to avoid the drunken debauchery of Cleveland Circle, consider drinks at Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square. Just a few blocks from the finish, watch the final mile from the outdoor patio or take your runner here for a celebratory drink post-race. Stick around until after the Red Sox game and the bar is sure to pick up, as it is a post-game favorite. Eastern Standard, 528 Commonwealth Ave., 617-532-9100, easternstandardboston.com
Cactus Club: At the end of 26.2 miles, rounding the last corner of the marathon is like striking gold. From the outdoor patio at Cactus Club on the corner of Hereford and Boylston Streets, you can watch the runners veer around that last turn and surge toward victory. Delicious margaritas and heaping plates of food will be the perfect way to revitalize your runner after the race. Cactus Club, 939 Boylston St., 617-236-0200.
Haru: For a lighter fare, join the “One More Block” celebration at Haru. Though their “Haru Hour” menu is usually only available from 3-7 p.m., it will be available all day on Marathon Monday, so walk that extra block and snack on some sushi and edamame. Haru, 55 Huntington Ave., 617-536-0770, harusushi.com