Lifestyle General Cool Running
Cool Running

Deacon-Jane-Dr-Hopkinton-300                    Dr Jane Deacon in Hopkinton

The Boston Marathon is a highlight on the international running calendar with plenty to see and do away from the track. Boston is the largest city in Massachusetts and also its capital. It hosts the world’s oldest annual marathon, first held in 1897 following the the revival of the race in the 1896 Athens Summer Olympics.

The first event attracted 18 runners to a slightly shortened version but in 1924 the starting line was moved to Hopkinton and the distance increased to 42.195km.

By 1970 the field had grown to more than 1000 runners and two years later women were lining up alongside the men.

The course winds its way through eight Massachusetts towns before finishing in Boston. It gently undulates for most of the journey but there are four challenging hills between the 26km and 34km mark.

There’s also an overall decline of 140m which means Boston doesn’t satisfy the necessary criteria to ratify a world record time.

That might have been a source of disappointment for the elite runners at the front of the field but I had other concerns on my mind. Would I make it to the finish-line and how bad, exactly, were those hills?

Running around Boston
Stepping away from the track for a moment, there’s plenty to see in Boston. Founded in 1630 it’s one of the oldest cities in the USA and there are lots of well-preserved historic buildings along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5km walking track.

You can see Paul Revere’s house, museums, an excellent aquarium and the Boston Common – the oldest public park in America.

My training for the Boston Marathon began in Perth, December 2014. As the days became hotter and my training distances got longer I rose early, trying to catch the coolest part of the day and I’d often be out the door well before sunrise. My long runs were mostly near the beach, it’s reasonably well-lit, has regular drinking fountains and I enjoyed a dip in the ocean when it was over.

I’d see a smattering of other runners, cyclists, fishermen and surfers – as well as drunken revellers who hadn’t quite finished their celebrations.

In contrast, Boston was experiencing one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record. It was interesting, and slightly ironic, to be receiving regular emails from the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) with helpful hints on how to run safely in sub-zero temperatures and snow.

Deacon-Jane-Dr-300Boston Strong
I wasn’t the only runner in Boston. About 30,000 other competitors descend on the city as well! It’s a public holiday and the atmosphere is wonderful, the barely suppressed excitement of the marathon runners tinged with sadness at the memory of the 2013 bombing. ‘Boston Strong’ banners are strung all over the city.

The BAA has had 119 years’ practice organising marathons, and it shows. The organisation is superb, even with the necessity of increased security measures.

From Bib collection at the Expo, mass bus transport to the start-line and drink-stations all the way to the finish, it ran like clockwork. There are literally thousands of volunteers!

On race day I made my way to Boston Common and jumped on a bus to the start-line. Disabled participants head off first, followed by elite runners and then it was my turn, roughly three hours after the first starting gun was fired.

After all the weeks of training I was finally running the Boston Marathon. It was amazing!

It was cold, too. Around 7C with a light rain falling most of the day but that didn’t stop thousands of spectators lining the course and cheering us on. I had a great run, tackling the hills without slowing down too much and from the 35km mark it was all downhill…well, mostly. As I approached the finish-line the crowds were deafening and I ended up clocking a personal-best (PB) time.

I collected my medal (most important!), a thermal cape, food and water and suddenly it was all over. I couldn’t have been happier!

Medical Notes
•    Hypothermia was the main medical issue.
•    Active warming in the ‘Bair Hugger’ with a heated airflow system. See: Forced-Air Warming and
•    Circus-size Medical tent – 220 beds, laboratory, respiratory and intensive care units staffed by 450 medical volunteers.
•    1310 runners treated and 36 transported to hospital.
•    Pheidippides ran the first ‘marathon’ in 490BC and dropped dead in Athens – 100% mortality rate in the first event!