BOSTON — Thousands of runners are anxiously watching the weather forecast ahead of Monday’s 116th Boston Marathon. The temperature could reach 80 in Boston on Sunday, with cooler weather in the forecast for Monday. But, forecasters say if that cold front is slow in arriving, this year’s race could be a hot one.
Over the years, the marathon has been run in all types of weather. In 2004, the temperatures was 83 degrees at the start, around 90 by the finish in mid-afternoon, and record number of runners were treated for heat-related illnesses. Still, 93 percent of the runners who started the race made it to Boylston Street.
Prior to 2004, the 1976 race was the hottest. It’s known today as the “run for the hoses” because the runners relied on the kindness of strangers who sprayed them along the course. The temperature on that April day hovered around 100 degrees, and more than 40 percent of the nearly 2,000 runners dropped out before the finish. Jack Fultz and Kim Merritt survived the oppressive conditions to win the men’s and women’s races.
The field for this year’s race continues to take shape. The defending champions in the men’s and women’s races, Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel, both from Kenya, are back, as are the winners of last year’s wheelchair races, Japan’s Masuzumi Soejima and Wakako Tsuchida. Boston Athletic Association officials have also announced that two-time Boston Marathon winner Joan Samuelson will run in Monday’s race. Samuelson won Boston in 1979 and 1983, and also captured the first women’s Olympic marathon in Los Angeles in 1984.
The BAA will honor several past champions on Saturday morning. Among them, the 1972 men’s winner, Finland’s Olavi Suomalainen, and the the 1981 women’s winner, Allison Roe. Roe missed last year’s 30th anniversary of her win because of the earthquake in her native New Zealand.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the 1972 race, the first year women were officially allowed to compete. Nina Kuscsik won that race and she will also be honored on Saturday.
The classic 1982 race between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley will also be remembered this weekend. The two runners will relive their fight to the finish, which Salazar won by two seconds, Sunday afternoon at 1 pm at the Boston Public Library.
There haven’t been any American winners in the Boston Marathon since the 1980s and that doesn’t figure to change this year. The top American marathoners won’t be in the field on Monday because they are training for the London Olympics. Predicting another African sweep would not be going out on a ledge.