First things first, Getting a BQ (Boston Qualifier time) was never on my radar when I started running. To be honest, I never knew there was a marathon in Boston, or that you needed a qualifying time to enter.
As soon as I got into running and started getting involved with running Social Media it became clear that there was a goal a lot of people had, which was to get a BQ and go to Boston. I looked into it, realised it was quite a target to reach and felt that it was probably a bit beyond me. Didn’t really think much about it after that.
My first marathon in 2019 didn’t help, with getting 3:44 in Brighton, a good 30 minutes plus outside my BQ. Looked a bit hopeless.
But roll on to 2022 when I next hit the road for a marathoning things have changed. COVID messed things around and in some ways training became a bit easier with all the lockdown and having a treadmill in the garage! Brighton 2022 as the breakthrough, I felt I was in good shape but blew my own mind with a 3:04. A BQ by over 10 minutes. I didn’t immediately realise but soon the penny dropped. I had hit the mark, and by enough to feel pretty confident of getting accepted. And that’s how it turned out. 2023 was going to be the year of Boston!
What I never really thought about was whether Boston was a tough course or not, it had this aura of being something plenty of runners wanted to do, but I never really checked out the course or the challenge in fun until I was in. Turns out Boston is far from flat. Even from the early miles there are rolling hills. In the middle third there are pretty chunky hills and the less said about Heartbreak hill the better!! The final few miles are pretty good and flat, but by then your legs have given up wanting to be associated with you and anything your quads or hamstrings have to say cannot be repeated in front of young children.
The other thing about the course is that. it must be one of the straightest courses there are in road marathons. Very few real turns and corners. Yes there’s some curving arcs in. the road, but generally the rule is, stand at the. start, look east, and then run east. until you hit Boston. That easy!
All that aside, Boston is mind-blowing. It’s maybe a Boston thing, and it’s maybe a USA thing, but it is the most tremendous experience imaginable.
Getting to. the start was nice and easy with the free transfer using school buses – loved it.
The athletes village at the start was good, well equipped and another. well organised aspect of the event.
That just left walk to the start line and a 26.2 mile run back to Boylston Street and my finish line bag!
Having run London 2022 and recalling how absolutely spectacular the crowds were I am going to stick my neck out and say that the crowds in Boston are a league above. Yes, London has massive crowds tens deep near the finish and by the key points like the Cutty Sark for example, but Boston is just 26.2 miles of noise, encouragement, enthusiasm, front garden barbecues, people setting up their own aid stations, dance music, 80s rock, 90s hip-hop and everything else. It is never ending. The crowds outside Wellesley college, a private girls school, had clearly lost their volume control! It was mad.
Yet it was wonderful.
Yes it was cold to start with, I’ve never seen so many grown people wearing bin bags, pyjamas, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hoodies and dressing gowns in a public place before. Something that none of them would ever do I’m sure if it were not for the fact that they were about to run a marathon.
Yes it rained, at times a lot! But it was refreshing and I think it rained a lot more than I realised, such was the way that the whole experienced enveloped you and carried you along.
As for my race, it went well. My training in 2023 has been a bit stop start, and I’ve had a recent hamstring niggle. So I was keen to push in the first half and judge the second half accordingly. With the hills, I will admit, I started to feel the left hamstring and hip in the final third of the race and really held off on some of the inclines, and by the time I reached the finish line I felt as though I had given it everything I could, without ruining my chance of running the Thames Path 100 in 3 weeks time!!
Boston was a real bucket list race, a real memory to cherish. Alongside London Marathon and The Arc this has to be one of my real running highlights so far.
Next Marathon, Chicago in October!