I ran the Boston Marathon last Monday. It was my 2nd Boston— but it was even more special and meaningful this time around (you can read my recap here). It’s one of those races that you walk away from counting down the months/days until you get to experience it all over again.
Is Boston on your bucket list? If not, here are a few reasons that may convince you:
- Boston Strong: The whole weekend was a celebration of strength, recovery and resilience. You could just feel it in the air. As a runner from NYC, it was an honor to run those 26.2 miles and be cheered on by local Bostonians.
- So much history: Did you know that the Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the world? It started in 1897 (although it was only 24.5 miles when it began!) and has been run continuously since— including through both world wars! All of Boston is focused on the Boston Marathon for the weekend, from stores offering discounts or free food (Starbucks offered free coffee the day before the race if you showed them your bib) to everyone person you came into contact with wishing you good luck.
- Share the Road with Elites: The Boston Marathon is one of the six races in the Marathon Major circuit. The best of the best race Boston for the glory, accolades and money that go along with it. Marathon running is the only sport where you get to line up on the same start line, run the same 26.2 miles and cross the same finish line as the world’s best. You get the share the moment with elites from the sport. There’s nothing different about the 26.2 miles that they run from what we run (except, of course, that it’s done much faster!).
- You FEEL like an elite: There are truly no spectators quite like those you experience while running from Hopkinton to Boston. I think what makes this marathon different from some of the other larger, well-known marathons (NYC, Philly, LA) is that it’s run through small towns, in residential areas and off the main highways. It’s an annual event for these locals. You can get a sense of how amazing the whole day will be just from the walk from Athletes Village to the start line. There were spectators cheering us on and one couple had two tables full of anything you could possible need before the race began (Vaseline, lip balm, gels, bananas, safety pins). The course is packed with spectators cheering their loudest for you. They don’t care if you are running the fastest or slowest— ever runner gets cheered on the same.
- The race has its own beer: Nothing like celebrating those 26.2 miles with a special beer. Sam Adams has a limited-time brew for the celebration called the 26.2 Boston Brew.
- Seeing friends: I’m a big proponent of small, local races, but the downside is that you usually don’t get the opportunity to see running friends who are from other parts of the country. While Monday was a good racing day for me, the highlight of the entire weekend was getting to spend time with all the friends who descended upon Boston either to run or spectate the race!
- Making friends: If you don’t know anyone else running Boston, don’t worry. Lifelong friends are made on that hour-long bus ride from Boston Commons to Hopkinton. I sat down next to a stranger but hugged and wished a friend good luck at the start line just three hours later.
- The Jacket: I didn’t buy the jacket after my first Boston and have regretted it for the last six years. I didn’t make the same mistake this time! Regardless if you ever wear the jacket, there’s a sense of pride you will feel each time you see the jacket, knowing you ran those 26.2 miles.
- It’s our Olympics: For those of us who will never be fast enough to run in the Olympics, Boston is our version of it. Many runners spend months, years or a lifetime going after the BQ time—and it’s a celebration to qualify.
- Charity: If qualifying doesn’t seem to be in the cards for you, you can still run Boston. It’s a pretty amazing thing to not just run 26.2 miles in Boston, but to do it for a good cause.
- Party at the top of Heartbreak Hill: There may not be another hill in any other marathon that is as feared and dreaded as Heartbreak Hill. It’s the 4th hill between miles 17-21 and it’s not the most forgiving if you went out a bit too fast to start the race. But reaching the top of Heartbreak Hill is a mini-celebration. Spectators drinking (and offering small cups of beer to the runners!), the smell of bbq food, countless signs congratulating you and even a huge blow-up banner letting you know you were at the top!
- 9,000+ volunteers: I heard the stat as we were getting ready to start—more than 9,000 people had volunteered to support the 26,000 runners. So there was a volunteer for every three of the runners. It’s amazing how many people were at the start, along the course, at water points and at the finish making sure we had everything we needed.