Here’s what you need to know about the Boston Marathon this year
Red Sox legend David Ortiz, or Big Papi, will be the grand marshal of the Boston Marathon on Monday.
It’s a poignant choice for this year’s race, which comes 10 years after the bombings at the finish line. The attack on April 15, 2013 rocked the city – and country. Days after, Ortiz united the community with words of strength and defiance at Fenway Park.
He is expected to share a few words at the start of the race in Hopkinton on Monday morning, and then greet the runners at the finish line on Boylston Street in Boston.
The 127th Boston Marathon is as exciting as it gets. Here’s what to know about the top athletes, best spots to watch, and more:
Meet the runners:
Eliud Kipchoge, widely considered the world’s greatest marathoner, is finally running the Boston Marathon, the world’s most prestigious marathon. My recommendation is to take advantage of this opportunity to see him run in person if you're anywhere near the route. (It’s like getting the chance to see Michael Jordan play at the old Boston Garden, but even more rare and fleeting.)
The Kenyan's resume is nothing short of breathtaking. He's a two-time Olympic Marathon champion (in 2016 at the Rio Games; in 2021 during the Tokyo Games) and the world record holder in the event. He set that record in Berlin in an astonishing 2 hours, 1 minute and 9 seconds in September of 2022, but he's run the marathon even faster than that. He finished a specially set up 26.2 mile event in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds, in 2019, becoming the first human ever to run a marathon under two hours. If he wins the race Monday, Kipchoge would be the only man in history to have a world record in the marathon, two Olympic marathon gold medals, and a Boston victory.
Kipchoge also has an eye on another prize. He wants to win all six World Marathon Majors. He's already finished first at Tokyo, London, Berlin, and Chicago. He's missing only Boston and New York. But right now he is focused on Boston saying, "I chase one rabbit at a time. I only focus on one race at a time." And in this race he says his focus will be on breaking Geoffrey Mutai’s course record of 2 hours, 3 minutes and 2 seconds in 2011. He probably won’t have much help trying to do that. Unlike many other big marathons, Boston doesn’t allow pacemakers: runners who set a fast pace for him to follow before dropping out while he runs on. Kipchoge had pacemakers for his world record in Berlin in 2022, but even they couldn’t keep up with him. He ran about half of that race by himself and finished more than five minutes ahead of the second-place runner.
Kipchoge is humble but also supremely confident and cognizant of his place in marathon history. He is one of the best athletes in the world and he's still very much in his prime. He turns 39 on Nov. 5, which happens to be the day of the New York Marathon. If he wins Boston, he might be tempted to sandwich that New York race in between now and his bid to win a third consecutive Olympic Marathon in Paris next year.
"I chase one rabbit at a time. I only focus on one race at a time."Eliud Kipchoge
While Kipchoge is the heavy favorite in the 127th Boston Marathon, the men's field is stacked with other world class runners, as it always is:
- Evans Chebet, of Kenya. He’s the 2022 Boston Marathon champion, and is back to defend his title. He won last year’s race in 2 hours, 6 minutes and 51 seconds. He went on to finish first in the New York Marathon last November. He’s only the sixth man to win both marathons in the same year.
- Benson Kipruto, of Kenya. Kipruto happens to be Chebet’s training partner. He won Boston in 2021, and also won the Chicago Marathon in 2022.
- Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia. The two-time Boston Marathon victor won the race the first time a decade ago, on the day of the bombings at the finish line in 2013. He gave his winner’s medal to the city to honor the victims and survivors. He went on to win Boston again in 2015.
- Gabriel Geay, of Tanzania. Behind Kipchoge and Chebet, Geay is the fastest man in the men’s field. He’s the Tanzanian national record holder and finished second in this year’s Valencia Marathon with a time of 2 hours and 3 minutes.
- Albert Korir, of Kenya. He won the New York City Marathon in 2021.
- Shura Kitata, of Ethiopia. He’s the 2020 London Marathon champion.
- Scott Fauble, of the United States. He was the top American in the 2022 Boston Marathon. He’s back to try to improve on his seventh-place finish. (There have only been two U.S. runners who won the men’s race in the past 40 years: Greg Meyer in 1983, and Meb Keflezighi in 2014.
The women’s field is deep and experienced, with a number of returning champions back to try to add new titles. There are more than a dozen runners who have completed marathons under 2 hours and 21 minutes, ready to build on past impressive performances. The women’s course record is 2 hours, 19 minutes and 59 seconds.
Here are a few runners to look for:
- Des Linden, of the United States. Linden won the Boston Marathon in 2018. She’s the only American to win the women’s division since 1985.
- Edna Kiplagat, of Kenya. She won Boston in 2017 (with a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes and 52 seconds) and 2021. She finished second in 2019 and 2021. Kiplagat set a new Masters Division record (2 hours, 21 minutes and 40 seconds) when she finished fourth in the 2022 Boston Marathon.
- Atsede Baysa, of Ethiopia. She won the Boston Marathon in 2016, and placed eighth last year.
- Nell Rojas, of the United States. She was the top U.S. runner in the last two Boston Marathons (fifth in 2021, and tenth in 2022.)
- Gotytom Gebreslase, of Ethiopia. Gebreslase won the 2022 World Championship Marathon in event record time (2 hours, 18 minutes and 11 seconds)
- Lonah Salpeter, of Israel. Salpeter earned a bronze medal in the World Championship Marathon in 2022. She also placed second at the New York City Marathon in November. Her best time is 2 hours, 17 minutes and 45 seconds.
- Amane Beriso, of Ethiopia. Last December, Beriso won the Valencia Marathon in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 58 seconds, the third-fastest time in women’s history.
- Hellen Obiri, of Kenya. Obiri is a two-time Olympic medalist and a world champion. She ran a course record time in a half marathon in New York last month. This will be Obiri's second marathon.
- Aliphine Tuliamuk, of the United States. She won the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, but had to drop out of the Olympic race when it was held in 2021 because of an injury. She was seventh in last November’s New York City Marathon.
Men’s Wheelchair Division
In the wheelchair races, Daniel Romanchuk, of the United States, is the defending men's champion coming off a victory last April with a time of 1 hour, 26 minutes and 58 seconds. He also won Boston in 2019 (with a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes and 36 seconds), but he will surely be challenged by wheelchair marathon world record holder and reigning Paralympic marathon gold medalist Marcel Hug.
Nicknamed the "Silver Bullet" because of the sleek silver helmet he wears, Marcel Hug, of Switzerland, holds the Boston course record of 1 hour, 18 minutes and 4 seconds. Hug pulled out of the Boston Marathon in 2022 the morning of the race due to an injury.
Besides Romanchuk and Hug, keep an eye on Aaron Pike, of the United States. He was last year’s wheelchair division runner-up. And tip your cap to South African Ernst van Dyk, one of the greatest competitors in Boston Marathon history. He's won this marathon 10 times and has raced it 22 times. This year's Boston Marathon will be his last.
Women’s Wheelchair Division
Manuela Schär, of Switzerland, will be going for her fifth Boston Marathon championship in the women's wheelchair race.
Schär and five-time winner Tatyana McFadden, of the United States, have dominated this event in recent years, but Susannah Scaroni, of the U.S., and Madison De Rozario, of Australia, could also be factors in this year's race. Scaroni won the New York and Chicago marathons in 2022 and finished second in Boston last April. De Rozario finished third in the 2022 Boston Marathon and won the gold medal in the Olympic Marathon in Tokyo in 2021.
Among the top para athletes are Liz Willis and Lisa Thompson, both of the United States. Willis is the defending champion in the T63-T64 (lower-limb impairment) division. She also won the 2021 race. Willis participated in the Rio Paralympics in 2016 in the sprint events before moving up to the marathon. Thompson returns as the defending champion in the T13 (vision impairment) division. Thompson finished the 2022 Boston Marathon in 3 hours, 47 minutes and 25 seconds.
Want to watch the race in person? Here’s what to know:
There’s 26.2 miles of opportunities to watch the runners along the marathon course, but of course the start in Hopkinton and the finish line on Boylston Street in Boston get the biggest crowds. There are many other great spots to watch as the marathon unfolds, including Natick Center or Wellesley College (between miles 12-13), and the fire station in Newton where the course turns right and heads up the Commonwealth Avenue hills. The top of the last of those hills, known as Heartbreak Hill, is a great place to cheer on your favorite runner because it’s a tough spot for the athletes. We asked our audience, and some colleagues, for their favorite spots to watch for more ideas — you could read their suggestions here. (And here's a map to help you navigate the day.)
The race creates a lot of logistic challenges on Marathon Monday, and in the days leading up to the marathon. The city of Boston urges people to bike, walk, or take public transit instead of driving into the city. Be aware that Copley Station is closed all day Monday, and South Street, Kent Street and Saint Mary’s Street stations will be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You could find more information on the MBTA schedule for the day here. You could find more information about various road closures here.
Security will be tight, as it has been ever since the bombings a decade ago. It typically involves the deployment of several forces, including special forces, and gathering of joint intelligence in the days leading up to and during marathon weekend. If this year's security is anything like 2022's security detail, you can expect uniformed troopers, local police officers, National Guardsmen and special units trained at handling hazardous and explosive materials. But undercover troopers and officers will also be milling about. On Thursday, public safety officials said there are not currently any credible threats against the marathon. Officials ask that if someone sees something, they say something: let a law enforcement officer know, or call 9-1-1.
Leave your drones at home. They are not allowed in the air space above the race areas. State police will have their aircrafts monitoring the route. There are a number of other banned items for spectators including over-the-shoulder backpacks. (Click here for a full list.) All bags will be subjected to searches at security checkpoints.
And, if you want to hear from elite athletes ahead of the race, check out Fan Fest in Copley Square Race Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Here’s the schedule for Monday’s marathon:
- 6 a.m. - Military March
- 9:02 a.m. - Men's Wheelchair
- 9:05 a.m. - Women's Wheelchair
- 9:30 a.m. - Handcycles & Duos
- 9:37 a.m. - Professional Men
- 9:47 a.m. - Professional Women
- 9:50 a.m. - Para Athletics Division
- 10 a.m. - Wave 1
- 10:25 a.m. - Wave 2
- 10:50 a.m. - Wave 3
- 11:15 a.m. - Wave 4
What’s new this year:
- In January, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) announced it would allow registered participants in the marathon or any of its other events to defer entry in the case of pregnancy or postpartum.
- This is the first year the Boston Marathon has permitted athletes to register in a nonbinary category. Under this new policy, nonbinary athletes were able to submit entry applications if they've completed a marathon as a nonbinary participant during the qualifying window, according to the B.A.A. The organization is still working to establish qualifying standards for nonbinary participants.
- There’s a new president and CEO of the B.A.A.: Jack Fleming. He succeeds Tom Grilk, who served as CEO from 2011 to 2022, and president from 2020-2022. Fleming’s not new to the B.A.A., having worked in a variety of roles since 1992, and most recently, chief operating officer.
- On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights leading up to the marathon, a new video projection show will be displayed on the facade of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. It will feature highlights of the marathon’s storied history, and center this year’s theme of #OneBOSTON.
Other things to know about the 127th Boston Marathon:
- The overall field size is 30,000, but the actual number of registered runners who show up to run is usually a few thousand lower than that. Here's a link with info you’ll need if you're running.
- Total prize money at stake in the 127th Boston Marathon is $876,500. The men’s and women’s open division winners each receive $150,000 and the wheelchair champions receive $25,000. A $50,000 course record bonus is available to any athlete who breaks a course record. (In 2021 the Boston Marathon became the first major marathon to offer prize money to para athletes.)
- Betting on the Boston Marathon will not be allowed this year. The state’s gambling regulators denied a request to allow legal betting on the race earlier this month.
- The B.A.A. did not require this year’s runners to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, but it did encourage them to be vaccinated.
- Scan the horizon for perhaps the tallest runner in the field: 6'9" former NHL defenseman Zdeno Chara. After 26 years of professional hockey, including a Stanley Cup winning stint for the Boston Bruins, Chara is shifting to a new challenge, his first marathon. He's running to raise money for two charities, the Thomas E. Smith Foundation and The Hoyt Foundation.
- More than three dozen organizations will have runners raising money for their nonprofits as part of the B.A.A. official charity program, which raised $35.6 million around last year’s marathon. Since the program’s inception in 1989, the B.A.A. and the John Hancock Non-Profit Program have combined to raise more than $460 million.