Boston Marathon Mile Guide

Runners and spectators, follow these game plans to have the best Boston Marathon experience ever.

boston marathon starting line

Runners get ready at the starting line of the 2012 Boston Marathon in Hopkinton. / Boston Marathon 2012 Photo by Marcio Jose Bastos Silva via


In the Beginning

All is still on Marathon Monday morning. Slowly, lithe, Lycra-clad runners begin converging on Boston Common, waiting for the buses to whisk them to Hopkinton. It’s a 40-minute ride to the starting line. But once you get off the bus, there’s only way back: on foot.

Runners are everywhere you look. Some are massaging tight muscles; some are tying and retying their shoes; many are waiting in growing port-a-potty lines. Questions hang in the air—Did I train on enough hills? Should I pee again? What the hell am I doing here?—but the “what ifs” stop mattering in the queue. “When there are three or four minutes to go, it gets quiet, almost eerily quiet,” says longtime starting-line painter and announcer Jack LeDuc. “Once in a while you hear a cowbell, but other than that, the runners are all focused and just can’t wait to get going. All that pent-up energy and all that training—this is the big dance.” Time for one last prayer, one last double knot, one last stretch—and then it’s one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles.

Runners’ Poll:

We asked 78 past and present Boston Marathon participants for the inside track on their race experiences.

How many times do you visit the port-a-potty before the race starts?

boston marathon pie chart bathroom

Describe your thoughts as you wait for the race to start.

“I can’t f***ing believe I’m in the Boston Marathon!” —Cheryl Flynn, 47, Concord

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. I hope I finish and don’t disappoint anyone that donated money on my behalf!” —Rob Sutfin, 34, Boston

boston marathon brain map start feelings

—Caitlin Hynes O’Callaghan, 32, Cambridge

Catch a Glimpse of Your Favorite Marathoners in Action at the Starting Line

• Wheelchair Division (Men and Women): 9:17 a.m.
• Elite Women: 9:32 a.m.
• Elite Men: 10 a.m.
• Your Friend: 10:50 a.m.

(Calculations based on 2014 starting times and the pace of 2013’s top finishers.)


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