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Your first Boston Marathon: what runners wish they’d known

Experienced runners share what surprised them most in their introduction to Boston.

We are just days away from the Boston Marathon. Whether it’s your first time, you’re headed back for redemption or you’re still working toward your first BQ, you likely have questions about this famous race. We asked the running community what surprised them about the marathon after their first experience. Here’s what they had to say.

Plan appropriately for race morning

Runners should consider the time from wake-up to actually starting their run. At huge races like Boston, where the race organization logistics must allow for thousands and thousands of participants, this can involve a lot of pre-race walking and waiting around for runners. After you get to the start at the appropriate time, you’ll have lots of time before your wave takes off. Many first-time Boston runners wished they had packed more pre-race fuel, disposable layers (check the weather forecast, of course!) and accounted for how they would spend the time waiting for their race to start.

Pacing is tricky

Running coach and marathoner Donna Mader of Fredericton says the biggest challenge at Boston is pacing: “The adrenalin at the start, combined with the course profile [the first approximately 10 km are downhill] makes it challenging to hold back the pace,” she says. “Conserving a bit of energy in the first half is not only smart, but it’s much more enjoyable to be passing runners in the later stages of a marathon than to be struggling and being passed by others.”

“The downhills are harder than the uphills, and your quads are smashed at the end of the race from them,” says running coach, former professional track runner and marathoner Lauren Goss of Boulder, Co. Goss has coached many runners across North America to success in their first Boston Marathon.

You’ll experience a Boston like no other

Not all the unexpected things about Boston are negative. Co-founder of Early Bird Run Club in Hamilton Kavit Puri says the energy in Boston on race day was his favorite aspect of the race. “As I walked from the finish line to Tracksmith for my poster and back to my hotel with my medal on and my bib, I was cheered and congratulated by strangers, like I was a pro runner,” he says. “It felt so validating, and made me feel so welcome in the city. I have never experienced a city that embraces the marathon like Boston did on that day.”

Recreational marathoner and nutritionist Tara Postnikoff of Toronto says that she wasn’t expecting to feel quite so much emotion during her first Boston Marathon. “There were so many things (that surprised me),” she says, “but I really had this sense of being part of something super meaningful and historic.”

(04/11/2024) Views: 239 ⚡AMP
by Claire Haines
Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

Among the nation’s oldest athletic clubs, the B.A.A. was established in 1887, and, in 1896, more than half of the U.S. Olympic Team at the first modern games was composed of B.A.A. club members. The Olympic Games provided the inspiration for the first Boston Marathon, which culminated the B.A.A. Games on April 19, 1897. John J. McDermott emerged from a...


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