Boston Marathon 2016 Complete Race Coverage and Historical Results Analysis, Racing Advice, Statistics, Qualifting Tiips and More

Boston Marathon: Results Analysis, Racing Advice, Statistics, Photos and More

By Raymond Britt -- We've run Boston 13 consecutive times and, we can assure you: there is nothing like it in the world. You'll know what I mean when you get there. (read about the complete 26.2 mile racing experience, after all the links below).

2016 Boston Marathon Analysis

Boston Marathon Race Day is approaching; and it gets all that more exciting when bib numbers are assigned. BAA has just assigned numbers to 30,630 athletes (24,000+ qualifiers), roughly the same number as in 2015.

Here's our breakdown of the field, by wave and gender. 54% overall are male, with most up front, 92% of the first wave, 58% of wave 2. Women dominate wave 3. Wave 4 tends to be for charity runners, mostly women.

Detailed Boston Marathon 2015 Results

Boston Marathon 2014 Results Analysis

Boston Marathon 2014, rebounding from the tragedy of 2013,  proved to be a spectacular success, setting or nearly matching many historical records.


Boston Marathon Finish Line by Raymond Britt
Based on our experience, results, and complete immersion in all things Boston, here's just about everything you need to know to have a great race, from advice, analysis, race pace tips, photos, videos and more. (for everything else,

Participant Information
    Starting Times
    Boston Marathon 2014 Exclusive Coverage
    Boston Marathon 2013

      Qualifying for Boston 2015
      Boston Marathon 2012 Results Analysis
      Boston Marathon 2011 Results Analysis
      What to Expect on Race Day: The Boston Experience

      [Excerpts from the book Boston Marathon: The Legendary Course Guide; proceeds go to charity.]

      The excitement of race day begins with a dawn's early light procession of thousands of runners heading toward buses that will transport them to the race start.

      Boston Marathon 2009 Start  by Raymond Britt
      I prefer to get on one of the earlier buses to get settled in Hopkinton, but there's no real advantage to an early or a late boarding time. With two staging areas at Hopkinton High School for runners to relax before the race, there's plenty of space for everyone.

      The bus ride from downtown Boston to Hopkinton always seems long, long enough to make you realize that 26 miles is quite a distance to run. As if you didn't know that already. But it is a little intimidating, still.

      There can also be a small delay between the time your bus enters Hopkinton and arrives at the high school, as it takes time to empty each bus in order. I only mention this because it happens every year: a long bumpy bus ride with dozens of runners constantly hydrating inevitably leads to one or more who beg the bus driver to make an unscheduled stop for emergency bladder relief. Lesson: everyone, as we tell our kids before long trips -- go before you leave.

      Once in the Athlete Village, find a spot, and relax. People bring all sorts of things, from blow-up chairs, to blankets, to plastic bags to newspapers. Bring what you like, just expect it to be disposable. If it's a rainy morning, you may want to wear an old pair of shoes in the potentially muddy village, and change to your dry race shoes later.

      It can be chilly in the early morning, and my preference is to wear fleece to stay warm. In the past, a noon start meant the rising sun would warm the area late in the morning. With a 10am start, and runners moving to the start area soon after 9am, it's probably a good idea to wear a plastic cover or old clothes to stay warm until the start.

      The Race

      Standing on Main Street in your race corral just minutes before the starting gun, take it all in: helicopters whirring above, TV cameras panning the runners, spectators lined up deep along the narrow roadway, the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner complete with an Air Force flyover, and of course, the natural buzz of excitement from all the runners around you. Prepare to experience the greatest marathon there is.

      Congratulations to Sheri Piers, Top American Finisher
      Hopkinton. Unless you are right behind the elite runners, do not expect to begin running swiftly immediately after the starting gun. Main Street is very narrow, and there's little room to move. You will likely walk across the start line before you start shuffling, then slowly running on a steep descent. The good news is that you can't run too fast on the downhill because you are so close to other runners, so you won't beat your legs early on. Instead, enjoy what I think is one of the most amazing images in marathons: looking downhill to see thousands of heads bobbing up and down Main Street for as far as you can see.

      Let yourself settle into a groove through the first 5k of net downhill road. Not that you won't experience some small rolling hills; you will. That's actually a good thing. It lets your legs stretch out and work a variety of muscles.

      Ashland. You will briefly pass through Ashland for a couple of miles. Mile 3 is nearly all slightly downhill; just make sure not to overdo it in your early race excitement. You'll pay later if you run too fast here. Mile 4 actually takes you slightly uphill, and it's a good chance to even out your running pace. It's at this point that I usually lock in to a pace/mile that sticks for the next several miles.
      Boston Marathon Course Map

      Framingham. The main landmark in Framingham is the train station and large crowds greeting runners at about the 10k point. Miles 5 and 6 approaching this destination have continued to roll gently downhill with some brief inclines. but by now you're under control. Enjoy the crowd in Framingham -- wave, high five and smile. You won't see many people for three more miles.

      Natick. Some peace on the road at this point is not a bad thing. After all the excitement from early morning through the first few miles, now it's time to do what you do best: run. The course is calm, gently rolling, but not difficult. Near the 15k mark, you will pass the Natick landmark: the clock tower and Natick Town Common. Crowds will be waiting, waving you on your way to Wellesley.

      Wellesley. After Natick, the next two miles are again largely without spectators. Again, time to stay in control and appreciate your surroundings. Because when you get to Mile 12, the real race really starts.

      There is nothing like the Screaming Women of Wellesley College. Sure, you've read about them, but you have to be there to experience it. The screaming is so overpowering, in a fun way, that I steered clear left away from all the fuss in my first few Bostons. But in recent years, I've decided to join the fun, running close to the crowd, taking it all in. You should too. Because after that, it's all uphill. Sort of.

      Shortly after Wellesley College, you will reach the 13.1 mile point in downtown Wellesley. It will be gut-check time: how do you feel? Did you hold enough in reserve to handle the hills that will soon greet you? You will have miles 14 and 15 that roll ever so gently and slightly uphill through tree-lined neighborhoods to sort that all out. Then it's one steep roller coaster ride downhill approaching mile 16, and then it all begins.

      Newton. The famous hills of the Boston Marathon really begin just before the 16 mile mark. There's a solid incline as the road approaches and crosses the 93/128 freeway. The spectators will begin narrowing to see runners, until there's a small gap to run through as you cross the bridge. They will be telling you 'you look great!' and you will begin wondering if you can handle the rest of the hills. Be confident: sure you can.

      Because, surprisingly, the next hill doesn't come at you for another mile and a half. Not bad at all, really. You just keep running under control, and when you see the crowds getting thicker, prepare for a solid right hand turn at the Newton Fire Station to begin a steady climb. The crowds will cheer, you will smile as you put your head down and chug up this hill. It's about 3/8 of a mile long, not too terrible. I just run at the side of the road, keeping my eyes on the white stripe on the road, not looking for the top. When I get there, I get there.

      And when you reach the top of that hill, again a surprise awaits. It's more than a mile to the next hill, and most of that is downhill, to boot. In fact, by this time, you will begin wondering what all this talk about the Hills of Boston was all about. Your main challenge at this point will be similar to your other marathons: handling getting through mile 19 with enough left in your tank to finish.

      The third Newton Hill arrives at about mile 19.25, and is a little deceptive. Not particularly steep, it just keeps going longer than you expect. At 19.5, you will think you've crested the climb, but it's a brief respite. There's more to go. Stay with it.

      And soon, you're at mile 20. 10k to go, the fun part. The real challenge awaits: the final Newton Hill, your path to mile 21. You will hear the climb before you actually get there. The roar of the crowd, combined with a pounding of drums, tells you that It's Almost Here.

      You will see the gentle turn ahead, you will veer in that direction, then you will see an incline that simply disappears into the trees above. You will not see the top. That's not a bad thing, necessarily; it's a signal to keep you head down, stay focused on the road. Again, I get to the side of the pavement, and keep my eyes on the road's white stripe, and just keep moving. Just tell yourself that in a few very short minutes it will be over, and you'll be on your way to the finish.

      Average Boston Marathon Finish Times by Age Group
      When you get near the top, you will know it. Literally, a clearing seems to open up, and you can begin to see daylight. After a small dip, which you'll hope signal the end, there's another small incline then the hard part is over. You're on top of the backside of the course, and you'll be able to see downtown Boston in the distance, just before you fly (or not) downhill towards Boston College.

      Brookline. Miles 22, 23 and 24 on their way though Brookline towards Boston are each net downhill, but that doesn't mean the course won't toss you a slight curveball here and there in the form of gentle inclines that frustrate the mind and body ever so irritatingly. As my body is wearing down in those final miles, I start thinking that the finish line can't come soon enough. And these little jabs by the course inclines seem much more potent than they should be.

      Boston. But by mile 25, all is forgiven, and you can begin to feel the finish line. The course flattens out once you cross the bridge by Fenway Park and the Citgo sign, and you know it's over soon. Take the last mile to savor where you are -- on hallowed ground, following the footsteps of 111 years of marathoners.

      The most special part of the course, for me, is the right turn onto Hereford Street, followed by the left turn shortly afterwards onto Boylston, with the finish banner in the distance. There's a calm before the elation on quiet Hereford Street, shaded from the sun, isolated from the intense spectator cheers that await just seconds away.

      The turn onto Boylston Street puts you in full view of what I believe is the greatest final stretch that you can experience in a marathon. Nearly a half mile of smiles waves and cheers from spectators on both sides of the street.

      Boston Marathon Finish Line by Raymond Britt
      The finish banner, an unparalleled sight, comes into view. Take a deep breath, appreciate every stride that takes you closer to the Boston Marathon Finish banner. You worked hard to get to this point. You're there. Enjoy it.

      Featured by Competitor, Runner's World and Outside Magazines
      As you run those final strides to the finish line, begin celebrating your own personal independence. You trained for months or even years to get to this point. And there you will be. Completing something that you once considered impossible, even ridiculous. A

      marathon, 26.2 miles. But not just any marathon. The legendary Boston Marathon.

      Then it's your moment. See the time, cross the line, smile for the cameras. Congratulate yourself, be proud. You've done it. Go ahead, admit it to yourself: you Really Rock. You're a Boston Finisher. Yes, you are.
      You've done something extraordinary, celebrate it. Celebrate your independence, celebrate your spirit and attitude that earned that trip to Hopkinton and drove you the next 26.2 miles to the most coveted finisher's medal in long-distance running.

      In the Long Run, life is a collection of Moments That Matter. The ones you will remember for the rest of your life. In April, your moment is in Boston, on Boylston Street, under the Finish Banner.

      That moment is yours. Celebrate it. From that moment on, you are a little more special. You are Boston finisher. Congratulations. Welcome to the Club.

      Qualifying Notes -- On 9/25/13, BAA determined that potential entrants submitting a marathon finish time 0:01:38 faster than the Boston Qualifying Standard would be awarded entry into Boston Marathon 2014. For more, see our analysis: 

      Boston Marathon Weather Forecast and Historical Weather on Impact on Results

      Boston Marathon Weather Forecast and Potential Impact on Results 

      By Raymond Britt 

      For those Boston entrants hoping (and perhaps praying) to run the marathon in fairly reliable, comfortable race day temperatures and conditions, I'm sorry to report that it's quite possible you'll be disappointed. I've seen it again and again; on race day, things change from hour to hour. Be prepared.

      I've been in Boston at the marathon since 1996 (13 consecutive finishes, recent years as a journalist) and my experience is not encouraging, I'm sorry to say, But I'll share because you should be prepared: weather conditions can range from brutal nor'easter forecasts (wicked winds + heavy rain) to oppressive heat, as in 2004.

      This chart illustrates race day temperatures from Hopkinton to Boston between 1999 and 2013 show they fluctuate from year to year.

      Temperatures will vary during the 3, 4 or 5 hours it takes to cover the 26.2 miles between Hopkinton and Boston. But there’s no comfort in knowing that because the odds of temperatures increasing or decreasing from start to finish are 50/50.

      Since 1999, temperatures have risen on the way to Boston in seven years; they declined in seven other years, and remained flat once.

      What about just waiting until the race weekend, or even race morning forecast? Surely they will be accurate enough to give the Boston runner confidence in conditions. Nope. The race weekend and race morning forecasts are no guarantee of what you’ll experience on the starting line a few hors later.

      I’ve experienced the surprise weather in nearly half of the 13 Boston Marathons I’ve finished. 1999, 2004, and 2007 stand out as races that differed sharply from the forecast.

      In 2004, we were told the day might be a little warmer than usual, and many runners were crushed by overheating and dehydration as temperatures soared well above anyone’s guess.

      Three years later, we fully expected to be slammed by headwinds from an all-but-guaranteed Nor’easter storm; instead it was a little windy with drizzling rain.

      To try to avoid being crushed by conditions, I learned to take enough gear to Hopkinton so I could suit up in running gear that best seemed to match weather, just minutes before the race began. Everything else went into the gear-check bag, to be driven back to Boston for post-race retrieval.

      This year, however, with the elimination of a gear check in Hopkinton, runners will have to decide what to wear for the marathon hours before the race begins. That just made things a little more difficult for runners concerned about being prepared for the right temperatures and running conditions.

      But no one said anything was easy about the Boston Marathon. Tough, incredibly unpredictable and unstable weather conditions will be one more reason you can have an awesome feeling of achievement when you finish in Boston.

      You will have not only qualified, but you’ll have started the best race in the world shoulder to shoulder with the best runners in the world; you’ll have battled your way through any and all obstacles weather changes might throw at you; and when you finally reach the last half mile on Boylston Street, you’ll see the greatest finish line in racing.

      Nothing stopped you, especially unpredictable and potentially devastating weather.

      Enjoy every moment as you approach the end, allow yourself to celebrate your incredible achievement, cross the line, and become a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in racing: Boston Marathon Finishers.



      Boston Marathon Weather Impact 2012: The Heat Year

      Featured by USA Today
      What's the impact of weather conditions on Boston Marathon Finish Times? We've analyzed weather conditions and finish times by age forecast temperatures soar into the 80-degree range on race day, as they did in 2004 and 2012, we would expect:
      1. Slower Overall Finish Times by 20+ Minutes on Average
      2. Men Tend to Suffer More --  Extreme Heat Reduces Men's Finish Times More than Women at Most Age Levels
      3. More Women Won't Finish -- Up to 20% of Entrants Will DNS (Not Start) or DNF (Start but Not Finish) 
      4. Expect the Unexpected: Boston Conditions Could Defy Forecasters
      1. Slower Overall Finish Times by 20+ Minutes on Average
      Featured by Runner's World

      Our analysis comparing average finish times with race day conditions indicates that temperatures averaging above 60 make a clear difference. Temperatures in the 2012 race exceeded 86 degrees; the brutal heat slowed runners by 28 minutes, on average.

      2. Men Will Suffer More --  Extreme Heat Reduces Men's Finish Times More than Women at Most Age Levels

      3. More Women Won't Finish -- About 18% of Entrants Will DNS (Not Start) or DNF (Start but Not Finish) 

      4. Expect the Unexpected: Boston Conditions Could Defy Forecasters

      However, often forecasts can be somewhat unreliable as the weather changes unexpectedly on race day. In 2007, a major storm with significantly high winds was forecast, but conditions eased hours before the race began, to a merely windy and chilly rainfest.

      In 2004, a relatively warm day was forecast, but the temps soared beyond expectations. The heat caused much suffering on the course, as the very slow finish times indicate. Then again, in 2005, similar temperatures were forecast, but race day conditions, while warm, did not come close to 2004 levels.

      Regardless of the forecast, what you experience at the starting line in Hopkinton can differ radically from what you'll face once past Heartbreak Hill, heading toward Boston. Variability in conditions has been significant in recent years, from one of the hottest races in decades (2004) to the cool, rainy conditions in 2007. See weather conditions for the last 12 years below.

      Wondering how weather affects finish times elsewhere?

      The 2010 Chicago Marathon was a hot one, temperatures soaring into the 80s. A total 36,159 runners made it through high temperatures to cross the finish line. While the heat did not rival 2007, and the mid-event cancellation of that race, the 2010 race was marked by a much higher than average finish time -- 4:43:38 -- and roughly 2000 runners dropping out. And this result was consistent with an analysis we had conducted before the event.

      Before the Chicago race, we wondered: how do differing temperatures impact average finish times? We plotted the average finish times and average race-day temperatures for the last 11 years to find the answer.  And it seemed to be generally good news for runners as long as temperatures stay below 65 degrees. However, when the average temperature soared over 65, average times would drop, we noted.

      And that's just what happened in 2010: high 70s average temperature, and a 4:43:38 average finish time.

      In earlier years, when the average temperatures are between 40 and 65 degrees, average finish times may vary within a range of between 4:19 to 4:27. Only an 8-minute difference. Not bad. The exception year was 2008, when a 57 degree average temperature was met with a very slow finish time; we'd venture to say this is because runners were being extremely cautious, in the wake of the 2007 meltdown.

      What conditions will Boston marathon runners experience on race day? Time will tell, in more ways than one.

      [And for everything else, see our Complete Boston Marathon Coverage and our Boston Marathon Stats and Analysis page.]

      As Published in USA Today