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Boston Marathon Long-Range Forecast: Low Likelihood For Hot Day

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer
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(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

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118th Boston Marathon

 

BOSTON (CBS) — Running 26.2 miles through the hilly Boston suburbs would be challenging in even the most perfect conditions. I don’t think I have ever come across a runner, elite or otherwise, who is looking for an additional challenge on Marathon Monday, at least not from Mother Nature.

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And like it or not, the weather is certainly a major factor in marathon running, especially in Boston. It can dictate whether or not a record pace might be set and it can also play a major role for some of the more “casual” runners. The weather can lead to dehydration as well as other severe medical concerns and inevitably have a direct correlation with how many folks are able to actually finish the race.

EVERY YEAR IS DIFFERENT

In 2011, under nearly ideal weather conditions, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the fastest recorded marathon ever, just over 2 hours and 3 minutes. While this isn’t officially recognized as a world record due to a strong tail wind, it is clearly the fastest ever Boston time.

Just a year later, temperatures soared into the 80’s during the race and times were much slower. In fact nearly 1,000 runners were unable to finish the race and several thousand actually chose not to run at all, deferring to the following year.

Any native New Englander will tell you that spring in Boston can be extremely unpredictable.

BOSTON MARATHON WEATHER HISTORY

There has been heat:

Eighty-seven degrees in 2012, 86 degrees in 2004 and the infamous “Run for the Hoses” back in 1976 when temperatures along the course were reportedly as high as 96 degrees.

There has been cold, lots of cold:

An ocean wind in early to mid-April is always a very cold wind. Water temperatures are typically in the 30’s and 40’s and when you hit that sea breeze, you will know it. There have been several years when temperatures have climbed into the 50’s and 60’s for the first 10-20 miles of the race and then suddenly plunged into the 30’s and 40’s in the homestretch. This can actually prove to be quite refreshing to many runners and provide an extra jolt to get them through the finish line.

Rain and snow, yup we got that too:

Just 7 years ago in 2007, there were concerns that the race may have to be rescheduled due to flooding rainfall in the days prior to the race. And, there have been several occasions when snow and sleet have fallen including; 1970, 1967, 1961 and several years in the early 1900’s.

So what are the ideal running conditions?

I think that depends on the runner.  However, almost everyone would agree that the worst case scenario on running day would be extreme heat. Most experts would tell you that temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s are best along with partly to mostly cloudy skies. The wind can also be a factor here in Boston. Most of the fastest times in history have been set with a west or southwest wind, otherwise known as a “tailwind” (a wind at the runner backs). A light easterly wind (sea breeze) typically can be refreshing, however anything over 10 mph in the face of the runners can present a major hurdle.

THIS YEAR’S FORECAST

Clearly, it is too early for any specifics with the marathon being 10 days away. At this point, there are some generalizations that can be made.

The likelihood of a very hot day on Marathon Monday seems low.  While this coming Monday will reach well into the 70’s, the overall pattern going forward does not appear to be a real warm one (bad news for those not running, I know).

The pattern looks to be an active one, thus the threat of some rain or storminess is a bit higher than normal.  Of course, all we would need is a 10-hour window of dry weather and it is waaaayyyyy too early to try and time anything out.

The “average” for April 21st in Boston – a high of 58 and a low of 42.

I’m pretty sure most runners would say sign me up for that forecast!

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ

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