How Perfect Was Marathon Monday’s Weather?

Research suggests it was pretty close to ideal.


Photo by Margaret Burdge

How perfect was this year’s Marathon Monday weather with its sunshine and spring temperatures? For spectators, it was pretty ideal. And for Rita Jeptoo, who set a course record, it certainly didn’t hurt. But how much did it help?

A lot of factors go into running a marathon well, and weather definitely seems to be among them. In determining the ideal marathoning weather, researchers have compared the temperatures at top marathons to athletic performances. One study found that an air temperature of about 50 degrees was optimal. Another, by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, put the ideal closer to 41 degrees. Another study suggests that 50 degrees is ideal for slower runners,  while elites do best at 39 degrees. (It also found that variations in weather tend to impact slower runners more than elite ones.)

Out of curiosity, we looked at the weather in years a man or woman has set a course record in Boston since 1970. The mean temperature was 48 degrees and the wind speed was 12 miles per hour. On Monday, the mean temperature was 51 degrees and average wind speed was a 9 miles per hour. Basically, it was a day that looked a lot like past Patriots’ Days when competitors have run well. And it tracked with research that suggests we were near an ideal temperature range.

When it comes to the Boston Marathon, that’s not something to take for granted. As Runner’s World noted last year:

[Boston] has a reputation for meteorological extremes that thwart months of training. The Boston Marathon’s weather history is littered with years in which temperatures reached beyond the mere unseasonable.

We certainly didn’t see sweltering heat, heavy headwinds, or (God forbid) snow. We don’t often give the New England spring weather credit for cooperating with our plans. So let’s take a moment to acknowledge now what a perfect day both athletes and observers had yesterday.

  • Ulinali

    Ummm…no. Ask the Red Cross how many people they saw in their tents suffering from heat-related issues and they’ll likely tell you it was too darned hot! No cloud cover made it brutal for most runners from the northern parts of the country.

  • ww
  • slowruns

    Way too hot given the winter we just had. The mid to late morning start times had novice runners running through what must have felt like 85 degrees when moving. It will be very interesting to see how much longer the average finish time for first time runners was for this year’s marathon as compared to the last few years.