18 Apr

Drama In Boston Marathon

Desiree Linden USA

The Boston Marathon started in 1897 with 15 runners. The 122nd edition on Patriot's Day (Monday, 16 April) was pure street theatre on a 26.2 mile stage in appalling weather conditions. runABC reporter Alan Newman was enthralled and this is his armchair-based report...

Watching a marathon on TV can be like watching paint dry. Not so the world's oldest 26.2 mile footrace, broadcast live on the BBC red button. Rarely has three hours slipped by so unnoticed as the athletes' courage was laid bare for all to see. This was the coldest Boston in 30 years, with heavy rain, vicious head winds and a wind chill factor that never rose above freezing. 
 
In direct contrast to the warm sunshine that lit up last year's race the broadcasters battled with lost signals throughout. Most athletes ran in rain jackets and were hard to identify. American hope Galen Rupp looked more like a bank robber than athlete in a full face mask. The knowledgeable American commentators did a great job in the circumstances.
 
Wheelchair athletes were first to sample the delights of the hilly Massachusetts route from Hopkington to Boylston Street. With constant front wheel spray to contend with, both winners used the four significant Newton hills to break away from the pack.  Marcel Hug (1:46:26) claimed his fourth Boston trophy and Tatyana McFadden (2:04:39) gained an astonishing 22nd Abbott World Marathon Majors title.
 
With an estimated one million spectators in support, last year's fourth-placed Desiree Linden (USA) came from behind to overhaul long term leader Mamitsu Daska (Ethiopia) at 35kms. Linden (2:39:54) became the first American woman to win for 33 years in emotional scenes. Sarah Sellers (USA, 2:44:04) and Krista Duchene (Canada, 2:44:20) came through the flagging field for hard earned runners-up spots.
 
Then there was the men's race. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) ripped up the training manual as he burst to the front with a 4:37 mile. This was suicidal in the conditions as he was battered by the wind and rain. Inevitably he slowed and was surely finished off as defending champion Geoffrey Kirui spread-eagled the field on Heartbreak Hill.
 
Amazingly, the indomitable Kawauchi revived, sprinting clear to win (2:15:58) from an exhausted Kirui (2:18:23) and Shadrack Biwott (USA, 2:18:35). We later learned this was his 76th marathon under 2:20 – a world best – and the slowest winning time for 40 years!
 
Boston is a classic on the bucket list for British runners and the leading finishers this year were M40 John Clark (Inverclyde, 2:36:08), Richard Powell (Trafford, 2:38:33) and Mark Angus (2:41:50). Rose Penfold (Fulham, 2:54:06) was among 56 UK runners inside 3 hours.
 
If you are inspired to compete next year, our race listing partner Sports Tours International have travel packages with entry to Boston Marathon. 
 
Image courtesy Boston Marathon