Monday, April 28, 2008

My Lone Boston Marathon Tip

My one tip for Boston Marathon participants is to use the bag check-in/check-out system. When you pick up your bib and timing chip, you're also issued a large plastic bag and a ID sticker showing your name and bib number.

On the morning of the race, shuttle buses take you from Boston Common to the starting point in Hopkinton, and due to the large number of participants making the same journey (~25,000 this year), the process of delivering runners to Hopkinton takes place over a span of hours. Consequently, you can expect to arrive in Hopkinton at least an hour before you actually start running -- in my case, I arrived there shortly before 7am, so I actually had more than three hours to kill before running. This will be morning hours in the Boston area in April, so it will be cold. Even this year, under ideal weather conditions, and despite the ready availability of coffee, it was cold, cold, cold.

You will want that bag with you. You will want it to contain something to read, perhaps an MP3 player, or something else to occupy you during those long hours when you're waiting to run; you will want it to contain, perhaps, an alternate set of running clothes, since the weather might change its mood while you wait; you will want it to contain some kind of blanket that you can put down on wet grass; and you will want it as a place to store the warmer, weather-ready clothes you've thoughtfully worn over your running clothes to Hopkinton.

I came perilously close to skipping the bag check-in/check-out system and just showing up in Hopkinton wearing and carrying only the stuff I'd have on the run. This would have been a disaster. I saw a few people who took this bagless approach and they looked absolutely miserable -- cold, bored, and did I mention cold?

Use the bag check-in/check-out system. That's my tip.

Happy running!

My full Boston Marathon coverage:
Overview
One Tip
Bloody Bib

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