There will be close to 1 million spectators lining the Boston Marathon route on Monday. This means that picking a great cheering location is VERY important. Even though there really is no bad spot to cheer, here are six of our favorite locations along the point-to-point course.
Miles 8-12 run through this lovely town along Route 135. The streets are lined with shops where you can grab a coffee or a quick bite to eat while waiting for your runner to pass. Natick Town Center will get crowded early. If you want your cheers to be heard, head to Lake Cochichuate between miles 9 and 10. Your runner will still be feeling great, so you could get a smile or a fist pump as they pass.
This cheering spot is for folks who won’t mind their ears ringing from the “Scream Tunnel” formed by Wellsley College students at mile 12. If you prefer a slightly quieter scene, head to mile 14. Along route 16 the crowds tend to be thinner and the course is lined by beautiful houses and shops.
Head to the hills! From miles 17 to 21, runners start their ascent up four inclines, including the infamous Heartbreak Hill between miles 20 and 21. This is an especially tricky part of the race where your runner could use the encouragement. The crowds tend to be the largest and loudest around Heartbreak. For a better chance to see your runner, head to the one of the first three hills instead. They will still need the support there!
Join the party! From this point, spectators along the course will be plentiful. Boston College students line the streets, which means the crowds can border on raucous. It’s all in good fun though. Work on your screams of encouragement, because your runner’s aching quads and potentially dwindling spirit might need a nudge.
This stretch of the course is marked by the famous Citgo sign, which runners can see as they approach the 25-mile mark. They won’t reach the sign without having to run uphill yet again. Position yourself around 24.5 to give them a boost as they start their ascent. Though the crowds will build during the race, it will be more relaxed than at the finish.
This is for spectators who want to be in the heart of the action. If you want to see who wins the elite races, there is no better place than Copley Square. Get here VERY early, or you might risk not being able to see the course. Give yourself plenty of time to get around due to the number of people in the area. However there will be no better sight than seeing your runner finish their 26.2 mile journey.
Just a few more words of cheering wisdom:
- Arrive early to your cheering location. Even the less popular areas will have tons of spectators. You will be one of more than one million folks!
- Boston is best watched from one spot. Moving to multiple sections on the point-to-point course is extremely difficult due to road closures and slow public transportation. If you want to see your runner in more than one spot, bicycle may be best—but have your route clearly mapped out.
- Let your runner know where you will be. They will look forward to your presence along the course. Track their location with the Boston Marathon app.
- If you plan to watch within Boston, it’s best not to carry a bag. You will have to wait through a checkpoint to gain security clearance. If you can, just carry the basics in your pockets.
- BE LOUD! Practice your most boisterous cheering voice. Before and after your runner passes, cheer on the rest of the runners. Wave your sign, ring your cowbell, and have fun with it! Not many races beat the fun atmosphere of the Boston Marathon.