The Boston Marathon is easily one of the biggest events that Boston hosts every year, and the 119th Boston Marathon promises to be just as big as ever. Scheduled to be held on April 20th with start times ranging from 9:17 to 11:15 am, the Boston Marathon is more than just an event for runners. The big event is also a day for spectators and all sports enthusiasts, with many making the event a multi-day extravaganza.
Managed by the Boston Athletic Association, the Boston Marathon is just one of many events the association sponsors in its efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle through sports. Formed in 1887, the non-profit organization focuses primarily on running, but does manage other athletic events. Other events managed by the association include an annual half marathon in October and the Mayor’s Cup cross country races that take place in Franklin Park. The association also hosted the 2008 Olympic U.S. Olympic Trials Women’s Marathon.
Unofficially kicking off with the John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo, the Boston Marathon covers 26 miles and 385 yards of rolling terrain spanning between Hopkinton and Boston. The free event generally features approximately 36,000 elite runners from all over the world. While many of these runners go on to complete the race in just a little over two hours, many still continue running for many hours longer. Spectators enjoy cheering on these runners at many different points along the Boston Marathon route. In fact, an estimated half a million people show up each year just to watch the runners as they complete their journey.
While it is quite difficult to get a viewing spot at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, there are plenty of locations along the route for spectators to watch. One popular spot for watching the Boston Marathon is at the Red Sox home game, which is traditionally scheduled on Marathon Day. Spectators of the game get to be part of the crowd that streams into Kenmore Square as the runners arrive at the Boylston Street finish line. Another popular location for spectators is along the dreaded “Heartbreak Hill,” which is located between Mile 20 and 21 in Newton. While Heartbreak Hill is not the steepest or highest hill on the course, it is considered to be the most challenging because it occurs so late in the race and at a time when the runners’ energy is largely depleted. Other popular locations include the area west of Kenmore Square, the area around Boston University and the area around Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
Regardless of where you would like to watch the race, be sure to plan your travel route ahead of time. Many roads are closed during the event and traffic tends to be extremely congested. Parking is also difficult to find, making public transportation your best option. The Copley station on the Green Line is the closest station to the finish line, but that station is typically closed on marathon day. Instead, you may want to take Arlington and Hynes on the Green Line.
To read a full list of events and other tips for participating in the Boston Marathon as a spectator, visit the Boston Discovery Guide website.