Monday, April 27, 2015

The Boston Marathon: The Mecca of Running - Rob Forshaw

these beauties lined the entire course!
To the running community, the Boston Marathon is the mecca of all running events. It is the only marathon left in the world where if you want to run it you have to “earn it” either by raising money for a charity or by qualifying on a BAA certified marathon course. To Bostonians the Boston Marathon is all about the tradition of being the longest running annual marathon, going strong for 119 years and counting. Whether it’s a Nor’easter or sunny and 70 on the third Monday in April, Patriot’s Day, it is guaranteed thousands of runners will be crossing that finish line on Boylston Street as victors.

This year’s Boston Marathon is one that will be remembered for a long time. From the start, forecasts were looking very grim, with rain and wind gusts ranging from 10-25 mph. By the time the runners hit the halfway mark, the crosswinds they were experiencing turned into a nasty head wind. By the time the front of the pack hit the hills of Newton, a steady rain fell until they reached the finish line.

never mind running, everyone in
Boston had to shovel this winter
Boston was slammed this winter with 109 inches of snow, most of which was dumped on the city within a 3 week span in February. This hit right smack in the middle of many marathoners crucial training block for the Boston Marathon. I was not training for the marathon, but had to endure two grueling months of treadmill running and couldn’t imagine training for a marathon in those kinds of conditions. Knowing the conditions they trained in, the least I could do for all the runners was support them through the wind and rain.

In my opinion, the best spot to watch the marathon is on mile 20: Heartbreak Hill. This is the last hill on the course. By itself it is not the most challenging, but after 20 miles (most of which was downhill) ascending the top can be rather difficult.

My girlfriend and I positioned ourselves about 200 yards from the top of Heartbreak Hill so we had a good vantage point for those at the bottom and at the top. At 10:30am we heard the crowd level go from a loud talking level to a roar. This was when the leading wheel chair racers came by. Watching this group ascend Heartbreak Hill is truly inspiring. You can see the suffering they are enduring on their faces and the veins popping in their arms from the amount of work they are pushing to get up the hill. The way they push themselves up the hill is simply amazing to watch.

no rain is going to stop us from being loud!
After about another 30 minutes the elite women were making their way upon mile 20 while the conditions were deteriorating. There was a strong, consistent headwind and the sprinkling rain turned into a steady rainfall. As the pace car was approaching, the roar from the spectators on Heartbreak Hill got louder, especially after seeing that American Desiree Linden was driving the pace in the lead group.

lead women's pack
The thunder of the crowds picked up again as they saw hometown girl Shalane Flanagan only 10 seconds behind the leading women’s pack, charging up the hill with full force.

Shortly thereafter the elite men came by, and reigning champion Meb Keflezighi went by looking stronger than ever in the lead group. The crowds lost it when they saw his position in the pack. Signs were waving, music was blasting, and people were clapping uncontrollably. The bitter rain was stopping no one from celebrating such a heartfelt event.

After the elites swept through like a whirlwind, it was time for the long stream of age group athletes to begin. If you ever needed motivation for your own personal goals or simply wanted to be inspired, I strongly suggest to go and spectate a marathon. There are no words to describe the feeling you get as you see ordinary people giving it their all to complete the Boston Marathon. You don’t know where they’re from, what their name is, or why they decided to run the Boston Marathon, but what you do know is they have 26.2 miles of dedication. All that matters is you are there cheering them on and encouraging them through a milestone in their life. You can see the determination on their faces and it simply gives you chills.
lead men's pack

This year’s race was another great one. It reminded me once again how great this city is, how great the running community is, and how great all endurance sports are for that matter. Patriots Day marks the unofficial start of spring for Boston and all of Massachusetts. It’s the official start of racing season, whether that be triathlons, bike races, or road races… it’s time to play!

1 comment:

  1. I love your write up of this event. It makes me want to go be a spectator someday, no matter what the conditions!