2012 Boston Marathon
I'm Lee-Manuel, from The Running Clinic, back from a very nice pilgrimage to the 2012 Boston Marathon with some friends. The run this year was nothing like we expected.
After many months of preparation, small details gone over, we arrived in Boston with the firm intention to win... on ourselves of course! Butterflies in the stomach never cease when getting to this marvelous sport city, even after a few times running it. However, these butterflies quickly changed back to caterpillars when we heard about weather forecast for race day: more than 28 degrees Celsius (82 farenheit). A good part of all runners probably reminded some long runs memories under these conditions, so 4000 registered entrants never took the start and went for the Marathon organization unprecedented offer to report their registration to next year's race. A brilliant move from B.A.A. (Boston Athletic Association) who, despite profits loss, made many runners reconsider the gravity of the situation. The less experimented and non-qualified entrants (accumulating a minimum of 2500$ in charity for entering the race) who were more at risk were targeted by this campaign.
The race was launched as planned with probably some extra precautions regarding the heat situation. In addition to usual water/Gatorade and carbohydrate gels stations, I suspect the organization to have distributed water bottles and glasses to many of the thousands of spectators to turn them into fortuitous volunteers! There were glasses of water constantly (or almost) handed to runners as well as slices of orange. More than half of these glasses of water were used as cooling showers (luckily ...) while oranges more likely saved a lot of glycogen reserves. Many water jets and spraying standpipes helped athletes to keep cool. Temperature reached 31 degrees Celsius (88 farenheit), but fortunately humidity was low so the sweat on our skin could dry and let our body breathe a little better.
The race has been a rewarding experience for me in terms of knowledge of body capacity: body reactions facing the lack of hydration and electrolytes were quickly palpable as well as changing body temperature when the need of cooling was felt. This is the beauty of running a marathon to me: an intense communion with our body. I could benefit from the tips of Lorelle (met in a restaurant), a triathlete who did the Hawaii Ironman under similar temperature conditions. The white hat constantly kept wet was a must and I also learned about ice dropped in shorts during the race (when offered by fellow spectators) which is a useful cooling trick because of the high blood flow that comes through this area. This last one was particularly "awakening" in difficult moments, I recommend!
Many runners also had feet problems (blisters, black toes, ...) because of the wet shoes from pooring water. My shoes were light, breathable, long tested and also had a wide toe box which allowed me to complete the race without foot pain or blisters. My friend didn't have this chance and had to say goodbye to half of her toenails for the next months! Sunscreen and "Bodyglide" were essential as well as band-aids over nipples (a classic). The race was won with a 9 minutes difference from last year. But the true winner this year is the Marathon organization who managed to treat more than 2100 runners at their medical tent at the arrival. I read that there has been one cardiac arrest case and fortunately the runner was saved. And this is my biggest astonishment of this hot day: beside the numerous deaths that occured in different marathons the last years, how didn't the statistic get battered with 31 degrees at the 2012 Boston Marathon's thermometer? This fact has been for sure a relief for all runners and the organization after the race. How was YOUR experience with this race?