The Boston Marathon, one of the six World Marathon Majors, is a grueling 26 miles and 385 yards.
Less than four of these miles lie within the city itself.
It is the oldest annual marathon on the planet. Only 18 people competed in the first race in 1897. Now, roughly 30,000 people run on Patriots’ Day every year.
As for spectators, there are about half-a-million annually, many of those crammed into those final few miles.
The city’s planning for the marathon is a year-round task. Everyone who completes the race is going to finish within city limits, so it is important to be ready, but Boston does a lot more than just make sure the race is logistically possible.
Some of the best traditions of the Boston Marathon happen in the city, like the Runners’ Expo and annual carb-loading dinner.
One of the best ways Boston salutes the marathon runners is by coordinating the timing of the annual Patriots Day Red Sox game. Fenway Park empties out just as the bulk of the runners are heading through Kenmore Square towards the finish line. This has been happening for more than a century and always results in a throng of sports fans urging the runners on as they run the last mile of their arduous journey.
Every year, the city has to close off the roughly four-mile route to traffic, re-direct that traffic, deal with the influx of drivers and pedestrians and its businesses have to accommodate the runners and spectators who stay in the city before and after the race.
It is a major undertaking that all locations along the route must manage. This is in addition to helping provide the usual security measures.
It would be hard to imagine a Boston Marathon without the support of Boston’s government, residents and businesses. There is no doubt that numerous organizations, such as the B.A.A., race sponsor John Hancock, and the Red Cross come together to make it happen, but there are only eight hosts and each of these host communities is gracious. This hospitality and camaraderie are among the things that make the Boston Marathon such a special event.
Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.