BOSTON (CBS) – More than half a million people line the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon course each year to cheer on elite athletes, loved ones, and complete strangers. For some, they have been watching from the same spot along the route for generations. If you haven’t found your sweet spot yet, you may want to try one of these.
If surging crowds filled with cheering strangers isn’t your thing, you can find a quiet spot early in the marathon course. Go a little more than a mile into the course in Hopkinton and you should get a good view of the runners. Drawback – this early in the race the elite runners are all packed in together, so you won’t get any idea of who will ultimately win.
Miles 6 through 9 of the marathon also tend to see thinner crowds. That’s from about Union Avenue in Framingham to Speen Street in Natick. The elite runners will still be in one large pack at this point in the race, but the thousands of everyday runners should be easier to spot this year thanks to staggered start times.
The Natick Town Green is considered prime Boston Marathon viewing real estate. People gather here early to stake out their spot, so if this location is in your plans, be prepared to make a day of it. It’s a lively environment with space to move off the route and stretch your legs. Meanwhile runners are ten miles in, getting mentally prepared for their move into the hilly part of the course.
Look for the red brick fire station that marks the sharp right turn in the course. Here runners swing from Route 16 to Route 30 (Washington St. to Comm. Ave.) after completing 17 miles of their journey. Families tend to return here year after year. With the infamous Newton Hills before them, runners really need the cheers.
Heartbreak Hill may be the most famous, but it’s the last in a series of four hills that runners go up and down during this part of the course. Their bodies exhausted, they need the urging on from the crowd to make it through these miles. The early hills tend to have a more family-friendly viewing atmosphere than the area from Boston College on.
Cleveland Circle & Coolidge Corner
If you’re looking for a raucous atmosphere, these two spots may be for you. When the course turns left at Cleveland Circle, the streets tend to be lined with Boston College students who have been partying since dawn. Same story down by Coolidge Corner, where students from other schools mix in.
One of the rowdiest spots along the course, the crowds in Kenmore are several people deep. If your real interest is in seeing the race, skip Kenmore. If your real interest is in an urban street party, this is perfect.
If you are lucky enough to get a spot where you can see, the final stretch to the Finish Line is as exciting as it gets. That comes with a big “IF”. As you can imagine, masses of people try to gather here, not only to see the big finish, but to meet up with their loved ones after the race. And security is tight. But, somebody has to be in front – right?