Thursday, 16 July 2015

A Runner's Look Inside the 2015 Boston Marathon Weekend (part 1)

Sun Setting on Boston as Justin Ferguson Landed at Logan International Airport for the 2015 Boston Marathon
By: Justin Ferguson

For any long-distance runner the Boston Marathon is seen as the pinnacle race one can do.   I have been fortunate to be able to run the last two, which includes running the race the year following the terrorist attacks.  That race was extra special for all so many reasons, some of which I go into in another post.  However, the concentration of these four parts will be the lead up to the 2015 race, the race itself, and the aftermath.

To be able to run the Boston Marathon is the fulfilment of a dream for many runners, this one included. I will save the depiction of the training required to get to the point where you can run the race and only focus on what the weekend is like, specifically in this post, what the lead up to the race is like.

Let me first begin by saying Boston is unlike any other race I have experienced.  There is a vibe in the city that is unparallelled to any other major marathon I have done.  This vibe is one of the many things that makes it unique but it is not the only thing.

For me I am not from Boston and need to travel to get there.  This year I left Toronto on Saturday, arriving in Boston via Air Canada two nights before the race.  The plane was full, with the majority of the people wearing their running shoes, lest they injure themselves before the race - this is one thing I have never done but to each their own and I am sure there are runners out there who would tell me why it is a good idea.  With the plane being full of runners there is already an indescribable atmosphere that starts to emerge.  For me it is an anxious, joyous feeling that encompasses me - the thoughts of the spectacle that is this race.  I also have a nervousness to me, which happens before any race but it is different this time.  Training had been tough this year, with the miles seeming extra long; couple this with the fact I had a tough race in 2014 - to the point of near blackout for the second half.  I don't know what to expect for this year but that doesn't matter because I know on race day my body and my mind will allow me to do the best I can on that day.

The plane lands in Boston as the sun is setting and the race weekend begins for me.  I never check a bag - don't need the hassle of baggage claim and heaven forbid my running shoes get lost, therefore I depart the plane and am quickly outside looking for transit to the hotel.  I had decided to stay down by the harbour this year, outside of the main race area at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.  This was only a quick water-taxi from the airport but first I had to find the shuttle to the dock, which turned out to be quite the long ride around what seemed like every inch of the Logan airport.  Alas, I arrived at the water-taxi (definitely worth the shuttle ride to get there) and we were on our way across the harbour, which was followed by a short walk to the hotel.  

Despite being removed from the immediate core of the city and particularly the race area, the hotel was abuzz with runners and their families, each going through their own routines or wandering aimlessly.  I checked in and learnt that I had been upgraded to a wonderful suite - and it was beautiful - thanks Starwood and the Westin.  Upon arriving to my room, I quickly unpacked my race gear, including what seemed like my endless supply of Cliff BarsPower GelsSports Beans, checked the water supply - sure enough the hotel had left extra water, as per my request and I was off to my dinner reservation.

For me I am a big believer in an oil based pasta as the meals for each of the two nights before a race (or a long-run).  I had researched restaurants beforehand and found one for each night that I thought would suffice; neither one disappointed.  

After a quick and wonderful Uber ride I arrived at Antico Forno and it was packed with runners - you could easily tell because they all either had their marathon jackets on and/or their shoes.  I had the linguine con vongole (linguine pasta with sautéed clams, fresh cherry tomatoes in a garlic white wine sauce baked in parchment paper, finished in the brick oven - feel free to check out my Yelp review).  It was nice and light and fulfilled my wish for an oil based pasta that had some protein in it.  The service was quick, polite and terrific, overall a good experience.  With that it was a short Uber ride back to the hotel, where I consumed some more water, ate a Cliff Bar or two, watched some TV and connected with some other runners over social media before retiring for the evening.

All-in-all a busy but great first day at the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Justin Ferguson is the Principal of Cosmos Strategies, the Founder of, an avid marathoner, a supporter of charities, including: Wake Up Narcolepsy and Sick Kids Hospital, and a believer that anything is possible.