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The 120th Boston Marathon: What You Need To Know

Elite male runners leave the starting line of the 2014 Boston Marathon. (Stephan Savoia/AP)
Elite male runners leave the starting line of the 2014 Boston Marathon. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

On Monday, about 30,000 runners will race into the city in the 120th Boston Marathon.

Officials says nearly 5,000 law enforcement officers will be stationed on the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston. There will be security checkpoints and police officers may request to inspect bags in certain areas.

Police are asking spectators to carry personal items in clear plastic bags and to not bring backpacks, strollers, coolers and drones to the marathon route.

From what not to bring to how to get around, here's what you need to know. Check out the BAA’s official spectator guide for further information.


WBUR meteorologist David Epstein forecasts a warm Marathon Monday with highs approaching 70 (updated 4/18).

Race Start Times:

  • Mobility impaired: 8:50 a.m.
  • Wheelchair men: 9:17 a.m.
  • Wheelchair women: 9:19 a.m.
  • Handcycles: 9:22 a.m. 
  • Elite women: 9:32 a.m.
  • Elite men and wave one: 10:00 a.m.
  • Wave two: 10:25 a.m. 
  • Wave three: 10:50 a.m. 
  • Wave four: 11:15 a.m. 
Click to enlarge the course map. (Courtesy BAA)
Click to enlarge the course map. (Courtesy BAA)

Race Day Road Closures:

  • Hopkinton7:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • Ashland: 7:15 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.
  • Framingham: 8:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.
  • Natick: 8:30 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.
  • Wellesley8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • Newton: 8 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
  • Brookline: 9:15 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.
  • BostonVariable (as early as 5 a.m.) – 6:30 p.m.

All times are approximate. If a link is not provided to announcements from public officials — which give greater details on the roads closing in that town/city — closure times are based on those listed by the BAA. Some roads in Boston will begin closing over the weekend, too.

Getting To The Starting Line: 

Roads will close in Hopkinton at 7 a.m. on race day, and this year, there will be no on-street parking allowed in the town of Hopkinton. Whether you’re a spectator, volunteer or runner, if you plan to drive there, it’s a good idea to arrive at available parking lots early, as space will be limited.
Parking For Spectators And Volunteers:
Free parking is available at Hopkinton State Park, which is walking distance from the commuter rail. Then, shuttle buses will take you to the race’s start. Runners can park there and use this service, but if they do, they will still need to walk a mile to the Athletes’ Village and are subject to additional security screening.
Parking For Runners:
Parking is available at the South Street Industrial Area and shuttle buses will bring participants to the Athletes’ Village. However, runners are encouraged to take BAA buses, departing from the Tremont Street side of the Boston Common between 6 a.m. and 8:59 a.m., to Hopkinton.

Getting To The Finish Line: 

Parking will be restricted on many streets throughout downtown Boston on race day, and with streets around the course closed to drivers, using public transportation is your best bet.

Service Schedule:
The MBTA will run rush-hour service before and after Monday’s race. This weekend, events related to the marathon will also change some bus routes near Copley Square, the MBTA said. Various bus routes north and south of the race will be detoured on the day of the marathon, too.

All MBTA parking garages are pay-on-entry and cash-only on race day, and it’s a good idea to arrive early if you’re hoping to find a spot. No bikes are allowed on the commuter rail or MBTA trains and buses Monday. Extra service will be provided on the commuter rail’s Framingham/Worcester line, and regular weekday service is expected for all other lines.
Station Closures:
Copley – Green Line (all day)
South Street – Green B Line (10 a.m. to approx. 6 p.m.)
Kent Street – Green C Line (10 a.m. to approx. 6 p.m.)
St. Mary’s Street – Green C Line (10 a.m. to approx. 6 p.m.)
Tremont Street – Silver Line (5 a.m. to approx. 10:30 a.m.)
The Berkley Street entrance/exit of Arlington Station will remain closed

By car:

Boston parking meters are not in effect on race day, but parking will be largely restricted around the course and many roads will be closed to drivers. Be sure to check the city’s traffic advisory before heading in. The 100 Clarendon St. parking garage is located a block from the finish line if you are looking for convenient parking, but again, you’ll have to arrive early.

Getting Around:

Pedestrian crossings will be available at the following intersections:

  • Beacon Street and Tappan Street (near Washington Square)
  • Beacon Street and Webster Street (near Coolidge Corner)
  • Beacon Street and Hawes Street

Where To Watch:

There are a number of great viewing locations between the start and finish, many of them accessible by public transportation:

  • Mile 3.7: Ashland stop on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail*
  • Mile 6.6: Framingham stop on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail
  • Mile 8: West Natick stop on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail*
  • Mile 10: Natick stop on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail*
  • Mile 13.4: Wellesley Square stop on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail
  • Mile 14.4: Wellesley Hills stop on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail
  • Mile 15.5: Wellesley Farms stop on the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail
  • Mile 16.8: Woodland stop on the Green D Line
  • Mile 21.4: Boston College stop on the Green B Line
  • Miles 22.4-25: Cleveland Circle to Hawes Street stops on the Green C Line
  • Mile 25.2: Kenmore stop on the Green B, C and D Lines
  • Mile 25.5: Hynes Convention Center stop on the Green B, C and D Lines

*Stations are within one mile of the course

What Not To Bring:

Officials ask that spectators help by leaving backpacks — and drones — at home. In certain areas and at certain times, there will be checkpoints for police officers to check bags.

For more information on security guidelines, see our complete breakdown here. Essential information is provided in the graphic below:

Boston Marathon spectator guidelines. (MEMA)

Bathroom Locations:

Portable toilets will be located in the following places:

  • Mile 3 – Ashland
  • Mile 7 – Framingham
  • Mile 10 – Natick
  • Mile 12 – Wellesley
  • Mile 18 – Newton
  • Mile 23.5 – Brookline

"Bandit Runner" Policy:

The BAA prohibits unofficial participation in the Boston Marathon and ask that official participants discourage family and friends who are not registered from entering the course in any way.

Watch Live:

CBS Boston WBZ-TV will be airing the marathon live from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET. They will re-broadcast starting at 8 p.m. on myTV38. will live stream. NBC Sports will be covering the race live from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network. More info.

Also, follow along with WBUR Monday on our website, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat at "WBUR" and, of course, on air.

This article was originally published on April 16, 2016.



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