Why not ride this out as long as possible right? No really, I felt there was so much more I could have wrote about the before and after of how this whole shindig is ran that I didn’t get to include, so I thought I’d include all those details in this blog. How do you qualify? What do you do to get in? Hotels? Expos? ETC ET
HOW DO YOU QUALIFY
Most everyone might know this, but there are qualifying races across the US every year. If you run those marathons, and you get within the time frame for your age and gender then you can apply. There is a select time frame for each year. My qualifying time that I had to get was 3:35. My first marathon, I qualified with a 3:27. When you run another marathon and do better, you can update your time to get a different wave/corral. I ran my third marathon in 3:15 therefore I was able to update, but I can ALSO use my 3:15 for 2017 marathon because it was within that time frame as well.
Registration opens, and you register for a race like normal and they ask you to enter in the race that you did and your qualifying time. You have to wait about one week and then you hear back if they have accepted that qualifying time (basically they have someone to check to see if you told the truth I’m sure). It’s a rolling admission which means that even if your time is within the standards that they set for your age and gender, that doesn’t guarantee entry. They can only allow what I believe to be 30,000 runners and this year the cut off was 2.5 minutes faster than what actually was each person’s qualifying time. So, if you qualified with your time faster than 20 minutes, you got to register first. Then 10 minutes, then 5 minutes, all the way down to 1 minute. Those that didn’t qualify with more than 2.5 minutes didn’t get in. (For example, my age and gender’s time was 3:35 but I needed a 3:32 to get in.
Once you are in, they take your money … lots of it ;) $250 to be exact for this race fee! OUCH.
THE BOSTON JACKET
I felt like I was doing the walk of shame after the race because I did not, in fact, get the jacket *GASP* Go ahead and gasp again because it’s like forbidden. You MUST BUY THE $110 WIND BREAKER that looks like you just walked out of the Saved by the Bell high school. I was like OKAY KATIE YOU HAVE TO BUY IT! So I went to the adidas store and I tried it on. Nope. Couldn’t do it. I had my wallet ready. It wasn’t the money, but it was kind of the principle of feeling like I was being forced to buy something I genuinely would never wear except while in Boston. I plan on buying a shirt that’s as in your face as possible “BOSTON MARATHON FINISHER 2016!!!” I was thinking actually of getting a tattoo to go across my forehead as well. But no really. I want people to know but not bad enough to look like Jessie. So, I shall wait for another year.
WHERE DO YOU STAY?
Okay, this proved a very large struggle for me, and here is why: MONEY! Haha! I knew that I could stay at the convention center, but yall, it was $650/night!!!! Isn’t that insane? HAHA! I knew that I could stay in Cambridge, but that made me really nervous with not really knowing about Boston. Now we know how the system works, and I would be much more confident staying outside of the city.
I have a friend who lives in Boston and I messaged him to ask if his apartment was available or if he had any friends. He sent out a big email to all of his friends (so sweet) and there were a few people that responded back. They lived almost on the street that the finish line was on (maybe 0.7mile walk) and the finish line is where you had to be on race morning to take the bus to the start so that was PERFECT!
They left for the weekend, and opened up their home to us. It was the CUTEST little downstairs apartment and they had like a full bar…with a kegurator. HAHA! Too bad we only stayed night 1!!
We ended up using Airbnb for nights 2-3 and moved out to Cambridge. It was an apartment that a girl rents out that no one actually lives in so it was perfect. It had two bedrooms for Tanner and I and then my mom and it was perfect. I recommend Cambridge for people in the future. It’s easy to get on the T (their subway) and get into the city. Many people open up their homes knowing this weekend is huge, so you can look on airbnb early (I waited WAY TOO LATE) and get a good spot I’m sure.
LEADING UP TO THE RACE
So Boston knows what they are doing. They know this week is huge, and they are very organized. I can only imagine how many people they have on staff. They sent out probably monthly emails leading up to it with information on how to prepare and what to expect.
I think it was around 1 month out from the race, they sent us our race information packet which included a little runner "passport" to pick up your bib. You had to sign it and bring your ID with you stating that you are the person who qualified. From what I hear, they mail those to the elite, pro runners and they don’t even have to pick up a bib. Of course ;) This race is huge which means huge running names are there. If you don’t follow marathon running, I won’t name drop but it’s the best in the world, which is why it’s HILARIOUS when people ask if I won or if I planned on it. YEA NO.
The expo opens on Friday but we didn’t fly in until Sunday. The expo includes all the typical vendors that you’d see at races selling things. You find your number and name, they give you a bag with all of your race day stuff and a free shirt. They have an information booth and an outline for you based on your wave and corral and what time the buses would be there in the morning to take you to the athletes village. You have to travel 26 miles to Hopkinton so you have to get on the bus EARLY. Red bibs went first which are the elite and sub elite. My bib was white, so we went next then I think it was black after that.
The race is point to point as I mentioned before, so I’ll drop the course map here so you can see. In the beginning, the race is going downhill overall, but yall it is not straight downhill. There are definite hills in the beginning. The entire course is rolling hills, and not as bad as Thunder road marathon that I did as my third, but it’s not just a downhill marathon. But there’s only like 3 turns the entire race which is nice. You start out away from everything it feels like, but as you come into the city you get closer to the water and therefore there is a breeze (aka headwind). It’s always a trade. Do you want heat or do you want wind? It’s hard to get a perfect scenario.
So organized! They had so many volunteers directing us all to where we needed to go. We got to the bus area and there was a super long line where they just check to see that you have a bib, and then you get on the bus. There was lines of like 20 yellow school buses, and it felt like we were being shipped off somewhere (I guess we were haha). This was a LONG ride, and then once you get off, you are at the race start. The athlete’s village is 1 mile away to which you walk to the village.
As you went in, they checked your bib again and they did a full body search of everyone going in. I know this is super cautious but with the past, I’m very thankful they do this. This was SO SO cool. There were tents set up and music playing and more porta potties than one’s heart could ever imagine. HAHA! OH HAPPY DAY! There were bagels and bananas and gus and gels and water. THANKS BOSTON! Everyone was just having a great time with friends on this huge lawn. I loved the athletes village. They call out when it’s time for you to line up to walk BACK to the start. HA! So, we walked our happy butts back to the start. At the start, there was literally a camp of porta potties (seriously probably a field of 500 of them-it was so crazy HAHA)
DURING THE RACE
I think it was right around every 2-3 miles, they had gateraid and water. I actually was very thankful for the gateraid as it was one of the only things that I was able to get down that had calories during the race. It was so refreshing towards the end. They are strict about the guidelines of where spectators can walk and have guardrails so that normal people can't be on the course. However, funny story, there was a guy on the course on his cell phone just walking and chatting like at mile 18 and Bethany straight up was like pointing at him "He doesn't have a bib. He's on the course!" hahaha! It was hilarious.My family had a difficult time finding a place to stand. They found a place that was on a bridge over this underpass that we would go under, and stood there in the shade so it was really cold for 3 hours. I felt so bad hearing them tell me about it just to see me for 5 seconds run through #truelove
POST RACE MEDALS
When you cross the finish line, I guess because there are just so many people, they don’t want to be putting medals around delusional people’s necks so you have to walk another 0.25 mile I’d say where the people with the medals are in a little corral passing out medals. You walk a little further and they are giving out the blankets. There are med tents at the end of course as well as any sort of aid you can imagine and huge bags of food being handed out.
FAMILY MEETING AREA
This was somewhat frustrating but only because you are hurting so bad and just want to see your family. You have to walk really really far (maybe it’s not that far but it felt like it) to this one area that they have marked off based on your last name, but my family couldn’t figure out how to get into this area as they have it all marked off. We walked around aimlessly for a while just trying to find one another on streets that weren’t blocked. I eventually got to them, and of course starting balling. I had wanted to cry into my moms arms for so long but it took me so long to find her hahaha! So, I took that moment to do so. WHY AM I SUCH A CRIER AFTER THESE RACES? GOOD LAWD.
FENWAY PARK PARTY
We didn’t do this, but I heard a lot about it and I have to say I wouldn’t recommend it. The tickets if you weren’t a runner were $25/each so we opted out when my mom and Tanner would have had to spend that. We just went back to our place for me to shower after sitting and talking with my best friend for a while, and taking pictures.
The party at fenway from what I understand was basically paying to get into the park when there wasn’t a game or anything just to be able to eat the hotdogs? Maybe I was confused on this because SURELY NOT but apparently, and the hotdogs weren’t even free. You still had to pay for the food, but it was just a general entry type thing. Maybe they had some music playing? HAHA! I sure hope so. The least they could do for hangry, delusional (I clearly like that word) runners is to play them some music and give them free beer and hotdogs right? Someone said they had to pay $50 to park at the stadium. FIFTY.DOLLARS. Wow. I will say that I can't really speak on this as I wasn't there, so maybe there was more to it.
POST RACE DINNER
They provide a pre and post meal if you want to sign up. I want to say that it costs money and I’m sure it’s a good time, but I knew I’d be with my mom (and originally my step dad was going to come) so I opted out. We went to Cheesecake factory. We were planning on going somewhere specific to Boston. We hate going to the places that we can get back where we were, but we were on the subway and our stop was closed due to the marathon so we had to get off, and I was SO SO HUNGRY so we decided we would get appetizers & cheesecake & drinks at the bar while we waited for a table (45 minutes). I don’t know if you’ve had their loaded potato tots, but holy macral, you have to get them. SO GOOD! I also got the oreo extreme cheesecake. I ate half the appetizer and half of the cheesecake. We got our table and ordered. I got the grilled chicken club and fries and ate the entire thing. I think that my body went into a hyper metabolic state post marathon. I’ve never ate so much and I stood up like “I might get hungry again before bed” which I did so I ate the other half of the cheesecake. HA!
I think this ended up being longer than the recap, but I think it gives more a full picture of the full experience and hopefully can help to know what it will be like for you if you recently qualified or are looking to do so in the future! :)