The most famous marathon in the world - the Boston Marathon - has only ever set 4 world record times, though well over half a million runners have completed it.
This is largely due to the difficult course, unpredictable spring weather in Boston, and unusually late start time.
The marathon course is unusual because it starts out easy, and gets difficult at the end - a time when most endurance runners have depleted most of their energy. The most difficult section - the Newton Hills, which culminate in the infamous “Heartbreak Hill” - can defeat even the most experienced marathon runners.
The Newton Hills start at mile 16 and Heartbreak Hill challenges runners at mile 20-21 (out of the 26 miles course). This is the point where runners “hit the wall” and must find the willpower and extra push within themselves to make it past these difficult hills.
Besides these challenging hills, runners must be prepared for almost any kind of temperature and precipitation, since April weather in Boston can vary widely depending on the year. And the late morning start time throws many runners off, since most other races start very early in the morning.
In addition, The Boston Marathon is the trickiest of all the majors to grab a bib. The BAA lists qualifying times by age group that you must beat by the previous September in order to secure a spot.
All these factors, plus the training and discipline that runners must have to complete this race, make these athletes inspiring heroes.
One of the most famous pairs of Boston Marathon runners is “Team Hoyt.” Father and son, Dick and Rick, are famous because of the physical challenges that son, Rick, faces due to his cerebral palsy. Despite his condition, he loves sports and competes in hundreds of marathons and triathlons with his father pushing his wheelchair. They have completed 31 Boston Marathons to date.
The marathon is the most viewed sporting event in New England, inspiring around 500,000 spectators to cheer on the runners from the sidelines. The most famous spectators are those that gather in the famed “Scream Tunnel” outside of Wellesley College. The Scream Tunnel, located around the halfway mark of the race, is said to be so loud that you can hear it from a mile away. The enthusiastic fans offer much needed encouragement to the athletes.
On April 15, 2013 in the afternoon, two bombs went off a few yards from the finish line. Three people were killed and 264 were injured, 16 of which lost limbs. The race was halted, and many weren’t able to finish the course. The three killed by the explosions were 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, 8-year-old Martin Richard and 23-year-old Lu Lingzi. MIT police officer Sean Collier was a fourth victim of the bombers. These victims will never be forgotten.
Lelisa Desisa - the winner of the 2013 marathon - gifted his medal back to the city of Boston to honor the victims of the bombings.
The physical and mental dedication needed for runners to first qualify and then complete this race, makes these runners an inspiration for all. X-Wear recognizes the inspiring athletes competing in this year’s race on April 17, and wishes them all a successful marathon day!