The running of the 2013 Boston Marathon was an exciting one. Ethopian Lelisa Desisa raced to the finish for the win with a time of 2:10:22, just five seconds ahead of second place finisher Micah Kogo of Kenya, and six seconds ahead of third place finisher Gebregziabher Gebremariam also of Kenya.
The Women’s race wasn’t as close with Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo finishing more than 30 seconds before runner-up Meseret Hailu with a time of 2:26:25.
The Men’s Wheelchair race was won by Hiroyuki Yamamoto of Japan with a time of 1:25:33. American Tatyana McFadden captured first place in the Women’s Wheelchair race with a time of 1:45:25.
BOSTON – More than 700 people gathered at South Station Sunday night to ride the train to Southborough. But these weren’t your average commuters. They came from all over Boston with their bicycles to ride in the 5th annual Midnight Marathon.
Founded five years ago by Greg Hum, the event gives cyclists the opportunity to ride the Boston Marathon route the night before the roads are blocked off for runners. Hum launched the ride via a Facebook group and the participants have almost doubled every year since, he said.
Hum, 25, works in IT support for Boston University. He came up with the idea for the ride when he was a student in the BU Bikes cycling club. The idea, Hum said, was to get his friends together and take a train to the starting line. Then, they would ride the marathon route in the dark all the way to the finish line.
Hum said his favorite part is boarding the train. “Half the fun is hoping on the train at South Station and packing hundreds of bikes on the train. You make new friends, you’re surrounded by hundreds of people, it feels really awesome,” he said. “It’s like this crazy pilgrimage.”
South Station began filling with a fleet of excited cyclists ready to complete the pilgrimage around 9 p.m. From there, they would be loaded onto a train that would take them to the starting line of the Boston Marathon – the first leg of their journey.
Participants gathered in groups with their friends, chatting enthusiastically and posing for pre-marathon photos. Some took advantage of the South Station food court – buying last minute bottles of water and carbo-loading at a nearby McDonald’s.
Andrew Hall, a 26-year-old Somerville resident and first time Midnight Marathon rider was among the first to arrive. “I’m a little nervous. I was going crazy just sitting in my apartment waiting, so that’s why I’m here so early,” he said, leaning on his bike and checking the time on his cellphone.
But the collection of riders made it clear that the night was going to be fun and anxiety free. A young girl wore neon green zebra spandex while another had a string of blinking LED lights draped around her shoulders. Many people had taken the time to attach speakers to their bikes or zip-tie glow sticks to their handlebars.
A young couple stood in line with a red, low-riding tandem bike in tow. A girl in line took notice and turned to her friends: “Aw, next year we’re doing tandem bikes, okay?”
Monty Montano, a genetics professor at Boston University arrived at South Station in a full Spiderman costume. “I’m looking forward to experiencing the route, to do it vicariously, to live it on a bike. And there’s something about midnight. There’s something charming about it,” Montano said before the race.
“Are you going to be warm enough?” Montano’s friend asked him, laughing at his costume. “Probably not,” he said with a shrug and a wide smile.
When the time came, Midnight Marathon volunteers directed the cyclists out of South Station onto the platform, where they would begin boarding the train to the start line in Hopkinton. A stampede of Bostonians with their bikes erupted from the station, tickets in hand. The riders filed out of a door sitting under a massive Bank of America advertisement that read, appropriately: “To new thinking.”
Four hours later, from the finish line, bicycle bells could be heard echoing in the corridors of Boston’s streets. The first wave of riders arrived around 1:00 a.m. cheering and laughing euphorically as they pulled past the empty bleachers and across the wide, blue finish line.
The street in front of Copley Square filled with cyclists as they finished their 26.2 mile bike ride and a celebration ensued. Riders arrived in waves, the more experienced riders finishing first. People collected in groups to take photos – hoisting their bikes over their heads victoriously or embracing across a jumble of wheels and handlebars as they hovered proudly over their bicycles. Hugs and handshakes were available to anyone and everyone who crossed the finish line.
Greg St. Mary, 32, pulled off to the side to stretch out his leg muscles before heading home. “It was super fun,” he said, beaming. “The initial downhills were intense, a lot of fun.” According to St. Mary, the event was so popular this year that he had to scalp a ticket to get on the train, which had sold out quickly.
Gregory Tierotola had just finished the marathon with his 25-year-old daughter, Amanda, and took a fatherly moment to congratulate her and recognize the bonding experience they had just had.
“She got on a bike just to do this with me,” Tierotola said proudly. Tierotola, 56, said he has been cycling since the age of 16 but this was his first time at the Midnight Marathon. “It was terrific. I don’t know what the runners complain about, it’s all downhill,” he joked.
Tierotola said his favorite part of the ride was seeing all of the bike lights around him. “We stopped at the top of a hill and turned around and saw all of the white lights twinkling, like fireflies.”
“This has been an amazing experience, I would definitely do it again,” he said. “Now I can say that I did the marathon.”
Timelapse of the Midnight Marathon, 2011
City Hall was transformed into a sea of blue and yellow Sunday evening as thousands of runners donning their official race jackets poured into the sunlit plaza for the annual pre-marathon carbo-loading dinner.
Groups of Wellesley College students enthusiastically greeted runners, their families and friends, as they exited the Government Center T stop, causing many to break into grins. Music floated through the air as runners chatted animatedly while waiting to fuel up for the 117th Boston Marathon tomorrow morning, imbuing the plaza with a festive atmosphere.
“It’s a celebration of people who run,” said David Lindgren, 55, a Minneapolis resident who is running the marathon for the 11th time in a row this year. “It’s part of the ambiance of the whole event.”
More than 400 volunteers were on hand to help run the event and serve approximately 3,000 lbs of pasta to 9,000 guests this year—a third of the 27,000 total runners—according to event coordinator Melissa Goodhart.
“It’s a labor of love,” Goodhart said. “This is my 27th year doing this and I watched it grow from a 4,000 person thing into a big deal.”
Of the volunteers, 175 were Wellesley students, the mark of a longstanding tradition of student involvement with the race.
First time volunteer Stephanie Kim, a Wellesley senior, had a constant smile on her face as she directed runners through the waiting line for food.
“There’s a sense of camaraderie there that they’re going to be doing something amazing tomorrow and for us to be a part of it,” said Kim, 22. “One of them thanked me for volunteering and I was like, no, thank you!”
Wellesley College senior Jean Lee also said she enjoyed meeting the runners. Lee, 21, has volunteered at the pasta party dinner for four years and has been a coordinator for the last three.
“It’s very different than cheering them on during the marathon,” Lee said. “Here you actually get to interact with them. They’re very supportive of us. They love Wellesley and the Wellesley scream tunnel.”
Lindgren grinned as he spoke about the signs made by Wellesley students in the tunnel, many of which include phrases about kissing.
“The fan support is fantastic,” he said. “You don’t go very far without hearing someone cheering for you.”
Boston’s Chief of Property Management Michael Galvin gave runners encouragement and support from the city as he spoke on behalf of Mayor Thomas Menino, who was in the hospital undergoing surgery for a leg injury.
Other speakers included 1973 Boston Marathon champion Jacqueline Hansen and 1983 winner Greg Meyer, the last American male to win the event. The speakers joined volunteers in serving pasta, salad and rolls of bread to runners.
Meyer plans to join Lindgren and a sea of other repeat runners who are racing either professionally or for charity. While Lindgren said he has qualified in the past, he is running this year as part of the American Medical Athletic Association.
“It’s wonderful wandering through the New England countryside,” Lindgren said. “This is my 116th marathon and Boston is my favorite.”
After a marathon last year that forced runners into medical tents and out of the race due to high heat, this year’s runners and medical staff are looking forward to a more routine event.
The forecast for Monday’s race is cooler, and runners hope that will help their chances of finishing uninjured.
“No one wants to get injured during the race,” said Jacob Nurr, 55, who is running in the Boston Marathon this year. “We all hope to run our best and come out of it with our bodies intact.”
Last year was a different story. Marathon runners faced high temperatures that forced some, like Jacob Owen to drop out of the race.
“It was so hot, I couldn’t finish it,” Owen said. “I thought I was having a heart attack or something. It was the only marathon so far that I couldn’t will my body to finish.”
This time the weather shouldn’t be as extreme.
“This year is pretty near the ideal condition for running,” Owen said. “There shouldn’t be any issues from the weather that the medical team has to worry about.”
Last year’s high temperatures forced an additional medical to be opened in order to accommodate the number of runners who needed medical attention.
According to the Boston Athletic Association, about 500 bags of ice, 4,000 Band-Aids and 500 tubes of petroleum jelly will be used on race day. The runners will be served by more than one thousand medical personnel.
“They are very good at what they do,” said Owen, who has run the Boston Marathon five times. “They plan very well, and take good care of the runners.”
There will be medical tents at the start of the race where runners can get “Band-Aids, Vaseline, a pre-race stretch or just a word of encouragement,” according to the Boston Athletic Association.
The Red Cross has also provided over 20 medical aid stations along the course for first aid needs.
Two teams will await runners at the finish line, providing any medical attention runners may need after completing the grueling 26.2 miles.
But the injuries from the race shouldn’t have anything to do with the weather.
“The wind will be a problem, but really injuries will probably be blisters, muscle strains or things like that,” said Nur, who has run marathons all over the U.S. “Nothing like the overheating that was seen last year.”
“We’ll be able to handle it, and hopefully nobody has too rough of a race. If not, then the medical team will take over, and they always do a great job.”
The Boston Marathon, now in its 117th year, is an annual celebration that draws thousands of spectators, world-class runners and lots of garbage to clean up after they have crossed the finish line.
During the course of the race, more than 25,000 feet of ribbon and over 1 million paper cups are used. And in order for a mob of local and national media outlets to cover the race, 500KW of power is spent, mostly at the start and finish lines.
With all the resources being used and disposed of on race day, how does Boston manage to clean up after the festivities?
An army of volunteers, from both inside and outside of the city, work with Boston city maintenance workers clear out the debris and return the city to normal by Tuesday.
“It’s a pigsty at the beginning, when the majority of runners are reaching the finish line,” says Boston maintenance worker Jermaine Williams. “[You] can’t look anywhere without seeing a thousand cups on the ground.”
But apparently this does not last long. “It’s amazing how quickly things start to look better,” says Back Bay resident Kathy O’Connor, who started volunteering with the race clean up team two years ago. “We do a lot of composting and recycling after the race.”
Keeping the race environmentally friendly has proved to be a challenge, but despite its large carbon footprint, the marathon has been getting gradually greener every year.
Thousands of runners and their supporters are arriving in the city from near and far for the 117th Boston Marathon. They’ve booked flights, made hotel reservations and registered for the race. Clearly an event this big has a large impact on the city. Just how large is the impact?
This year, the Marathon is expected to bring in $142 million to the city, according to the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. This is a $5 million increase from the 2012 race.
However, there are a lot of costs associated with running the Marathon. Expenses include public safety and crowd control, parks and recreation departments, medical resources, transportation, and administrative costs and rental fees. These expenses can total 80 percent of marathon costs, according to Jack Fleming, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Boston Athletic Association.
Most people coming to the city for the Marathon stay an average of three nights, said Kelly Allen, Sales Manager at Marathon Tours, a company that puts together packages for runners and their family and friends. Hotel rates run from $174 to $410 a night. Currently, they’re all booked.
Boston businesses feel the influx of tourists in the city around the marathon. City Sports on Boylston Street, right near the finish line, sees heavy traffic in the store in the weekend leading up to the race. “We open early, and close late,” said Kristy McLean, store manager at City Sports. The Sunday before the marathon sees more customers than any day during the holiday season, she said.
What about the eight communities that the Marathon runs through? Over the next three years, they’ll be receiving $2.7 million. “Through the support of principal sponsor John Hancock Financial, the [Boston Athletic Association] makes this contribution in recognition and appreciation of successful cooperation with the Marathon communities in hosting the world’s most prestigious annual marathon,” a press release from the B.A.A. notes.
John Hancock Financial isn’t only giving out money to the communities. The top finishers will be the recipients of $806,000, according to a B.A.A press release. An additional $220,000 in bonuses will be distributed if participants break records in the open, masters, or push rim wheelchair divisions, according to bostonmarathonmediaguide.com.
Additionally, charities benefit from the marathon. This year’s marathon marks the 25th anniversary of the Official Charity Program. “Through this program and John Hancock’s Non-Profit Bib Program for the Boston Marathon, the selected charities of the Boston Marathon Official Charity Program raise more than $16 million each year to serve areas of need in the Greater Boston area,” according to the B.A.A. “Over the past 27 years, the official B.A.A. and John Hancock Non-Profit Programs have combined to raise more than $150 million for community organizations.”
Runners pay an entry fee of $150, however, the B.A.A. understands that runners and supporters also are “looking forward to coming to Boston for the first time to experience all that we have here,” Fleming said.
Officially registered marathon participants will receive the Runner Passport(TM.) This includes tourist supplies such as maps and visitor suggestions to guide them around the city. “Most importantly, the booklet includes the number pick-up card,” the B.A.A press release said.
Who was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon? In what year was the length of the race course changed? View key moments in Marathon history via this interactive timeline. (Producer: Nicholas Koop/BU News Service)