Posted by: Ingrid | April 29, 2015

Why Boston, numbers, and the secret language of jackets

While wandering the marathon expo I met another woman who looked about my age in the free beer line (thanks, Sam Adams!).  As we inched along, I discovered that she had run 108 marathons with 58 of these specifically spent trying to qualify to run Boston.  I was stunned by the dedication that would drive someone to do that many marathons just to make it to yet another marathon and slightly appalled at the thought of funding 108 marathons (estimate $100 ballpark and go up from there if any of them were sponsored by Disney).

Why Boston?  What is it that drives people to do just one more marathon in hopes that they will meet the qualifying time?  To try to shave off just a few more minutes so they earn the right to enter the door to which all other marathons are the key?  I pondered this on our flight to Boston.  Why was I flying there to run a marathon that I could never win or even place in my age group?  Why join a crowd of 30,000 runners when I have plenty of potential running in Colorado and prefer to have personal space?

I am still not exactly sure what drives it, but certainly some of it is the mystique.  The B.A.A.’s symbol is the unicorn, likening Boston to the mythical beast that is so elusive and hard to catch (also frustrating half the running population, I am sure.  Granted, I have loved unicorns since I was a three year old girl since what could be cooler than a magical horse with a horn, but half of Boston’s field is male…).

Since I can only speak as a normal runner, there is something exciting to know that you met some sort of standard in order to run an event.  There may be way too many people but you are surrounded by good runners all coming together to run.  It makes me want to pat myself on the back until I think about how, to actually compete at Boston, I would have to shave over and hour off my existing time.

They have all sorts of fun numbers and stats after the race; the most interesting to me was that after age 50 the male/female categories go from being roughly equal to male dominated (80+ category had 10 men and 1 woman).  Come on, ladies!  So some numbers from this year’s Boston.

Lelisa Desisa won the men’s race in 2:09.17.  Caroline Rotich of Kenya won the women’s race in 2:24.55.

30,251 people entered the race, 27,165 began the race, and 26,610 finished.

1,310 people were treated in the med tents (mostly for hypothermia) and 36 were transported to hospitals.

I was the 9,754 finisher, the 2,224 of 12,022 women, and was 1,780 of 6,011 in my division (18-39 year females). No, they don’t have a prize for that. 😉

Wyoming had the fewest entrants with only 25, Colorado had 563, and Massachusetts had more than 5,000.

There were runners from 85 other countries in attendance.

Best advice I could give new runners at Boston (other than the hill advice that everyone knows) is to buy a jacket.  When you enter the marathon expo you are immediately ushered into the “shrine to Adidas”.  Adidas, under the assumption that all these runners (having spent so much money just to be there and now high on carbohydrates) will plunk down obscene amounts of money, puts the Boston logo on everything and then sells it for a ridiculous sum.  I wish I could say that they donate half to third world countries or to charity but no such luck.  My husband forced me (truly) to buy one.  In retrospect, I am glad I did.  You see, there is an unspoken language when it comes to Boston Marathon jackets.  Just passing someone in Boston you suddenly know on sight that they ran the year of the bombings, or the year it was incredibly hot.  You see someone in a jacket from 2006 and you figure they have been around the proverbial Boston block.  Anyone in a jacket also becomes a source of credible information.  Presumably they now:

-have been to the expo.

-can direct you to the convention center.

-can carry on a very specific weather related conversation about the next 2 days in Boston.

-can successfully navigate the T (Boston’s subway).

-are safe people to make eye contact with while riding the T (Boston residents either put in headphones or glue their eyes to a device – people on the T making eye contact tend to be either crazy or drunk, or both. Or tourists, I guess.).

Upon exiting the expo in my new jacket, I was promptly asked for directions, confirming my hypothesis.  Also, I now have a really expensive jacket that I would never EVER sweat in, but anyone who knows the language of jackets will recognize my purple and orange as the year of the wind and rain.  This was obviously money well spent!



  1. Unicorn – part of the fairy tale!

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