Boston marathon 2021 the Role Playing Game Race Report

Welcome to Boston Marathon 2021  – the newest role playing adventure game.

Due to COVID, Boston 2020 was entirely virtual and just about every other in person race was cancelled. Many of us couldn’t even train with our run buds any more. When they announced registration for in-person Boston 2021, I really wasn’t sure I would ever reach the start line. Only 20,000 runners means tougher qualifying times, the in person race could be cancelled, and I didn’t know if I would be able to enter the United States. Getting to Boston this year has been like a complicated adventure game filled with puzzles, obstacles and setbacks, so that’s how I’ll approach this race report.. as an RPG (role playing game)… will you get to the start of the Boston marathon?

Stage 1 Getting a BQ

Begin your adventure with a wisdom check. Any wise person would realize going to Boston this year is not worth the hassle, so many hurdles to overcome, but if you are thinking of registering then you must have run at least one marathon already so therefore your wisdom score is probably low enough that you may register. If you are in the hospital with COVID when you register subtract 5 from your wisdom*

*We met a runner from India who was in the hospital with COVID when registration opened for Boston, but she had a BQ and she told her husband to bring her credit card to the hospital so she could register.

Roll 3d10 (that means roll a 10 sided dice 3 times), the first roll is the number of minutes, the next two rolls determine the number of seconds for the cut-off. 7, 4, and 7. If you ran your marathon 7 minutes and 47 seconds faster than the qualifying time for your age group proceed to Stage 2 Planning the trip. If you did not, you may register for the virtual Boston marathon or you can end your Boston adventure and choose an alternate marathon adventure.

Stage 2 Planning the trip

You met the cut-off time congratulations!

Book yourself a hotel. Make a wisdom check, if you pass your wisdom check you book a refundable hotel room, if not, do a wealth check to ensure you can afford to risk losing $600-$2500 for those outrageously priced marathon weekend hotel rooms if something goes wrong. Roll a d4 (four sided dice) to determine the number of nights you book. Subtract one from your roll if you failed the wisdom check (people who fly or drive home the day of the marathon are definitely a little crazy*). 

*Mike

We passed the wisdom check and rolled a 3. My sister booked an airport hotel ($150/night cheaper than downtown) for Saturday, Sunday & Monday.

Roll a d6 (six sided dice) to determine travel restrictions to Boston at the time you found out you got a bib.

  • 6 you may travel freely to Boston
  • 5 you may fly to Boston
  • 4 you may drive to Boston
  • 3 you may fly to Boston with a two week quarantine
  • 2 you may fly to Boston with a two week quarantine in another country before you arrive
  • 1 forget it they aren’t letting you in right now, better hope things improve by the October!

We rolled a 5. But it’s April and the race is in October, no doubt the Canadian/US border will be open by then, I’m not flying, that would be expensive and a hassle. Move on to stage 3 Training

Stage 3 Training

Roll a d6 to determine how many workouts you will complete this week. Do a wisdom check. Add 1 hill workout to your schedule if you passed your wisdom check. Do a motivation check, add 1 to your workout schedule if this is your first Boston, or if you are planning to PB at the marathon. Subtract one from your number of weekly workouts if you are just happy to run a race in person again, and don’t really care what your time is.

At the end of each week, complete a training check. Roll a d20.

  • 20 critical hit, you had a fantastic training week, you are rocking it increase motivation by two.
  • 15-19 training went well, your workouts went well, your motivation increases by one.
  • 10-14 you got your workouts done, feeling a bit tired but basically okay continue training as usual.
  • 6-9 that one workout did not go well, reduce motivation by one.
  • 2-5 something went wrong roll a d10 and check the injury table to determine which body part feels off. 1 Critical miss! You have an injury that prevents you from running next week roll d10 and check the injury table to determine the injury, roll another d10 to determine the number of weeks training lost.

Injury Table

  • 1 Toe*
  • 2 Foot
  • 3 Ankle
  • 4 Achilles/calf
  • 5 Knee
  • 6 IT Band
  • 7 Hip
  • 8 Back
  • 9 Shoulder
  • 10 Gash in the head**

*Randy **Judy

If you had an injury, do a wisdom check, if you fail the wisdom check, you are ignoring your injury subtract one from next week’s training check. If you pass the wisdom check you add some stretching, yoga, physio, to your workout routine and continue to train as usual.

Repeat for 10 weeks then advance to stage 4 It’s getting real

Stage 4 It’s getting real

Roll a d6 (six sided dice) to determine travel restrictions to Boston six weeks from race day.

  • 6 you may travel freely to Boston
  • 5 you may fly to Boston
  • 4 you may drive to Boston
  • 3 you may fly to Boston with a two week quarantine
  • 2 you may fly to Boston with a two week quarantine in another country before you arrive*
  • 1 forget it they aren’t letting you in right now, okay now might be the time to start panicking

*We met a runner from South Africa who had to complete a two week quarantine in Namibia to get to Boston.

I rolled a 5. Well that sucks! We were planning to drive, time to look up flights. Roll a d2 to determine flight options.

  • 15+ you find a flight that is fully refundable at a decent price
  • 10-14 you find a flight that will provide you with travel credits or a reasonable price
  • 5-9 you find a decent priced flight but non-refundable
  • 2-4 ouch that’s expensive but no real alternative.
  • 1 forget it! I’m switching to the virtual race

Next perform a hotel check to ensure your hotel nights line up with your flights.

We rolled a 13 and got flights on Air Canada which can be traded for full travel credit if we have to cancel, but we failed our hotel check because we land Friday night and don’t have hotel for Friday. We pass a luck check and are able to book Friday night at the same hotel we have for the rest of our stay but lose an additional $100 over what we would have paid if we had booked Friday initially.

Once you have your travel and hotel sorted advance to stage 5 COVID testing

Stage 5 COVID testing

You have a flight and you have hotel booked, now it’s time to research the current rules for entering the US. You require a COVID Rapid Antigen test within 72 hours of your flight entering the US. If you are travelling through another country to arrive in the US, do a luck check to determine if you require a different test to enter the country in-transit.

For each COVID test roll a d10 to determine the degree of Q-tip penetration into your nasal passage required to take a sample.

Roll a d20 to determine if your COVID test is negative, add 10 to your score if you are fully vaccinated, add 5 to your score if you wear a mask in public locations, subtract one for every meal indoors at a restaurant, movie, or large public event attended in the past 14 days. If you fail this throw your adventure ends here. If you pass this throw advance to stage 6 fly to Boston.

Stage 6 Fly to Boston

Complete your online check in, roll 2d10 to determine how many minutes you spend figuring out all the documentation you must submit to check in for your flight.

It’s time to fly, but airports as we know are fraught with complications, so for each flight roll 2d10 for wild magic and hope you make your connections and arrive successfully in Boston in time to get your bib**

**Each and every scenario below is based on actual incidents that happened to myself, friends, or family. You know who you are 😊

  • 99-00 Everything goes fine
  • 97-98 You read all the dire warnings about arriving early during COVID and arrive at the airport before the check-in counters are open, subtract 2 from endurance due to unnecessary lost sleep.
  • 95-96 Rain (d10 minutes flight delay)
  • 93-94 Fog at arrival airport (d20 minutes delay circling and 50% chance of aborted landing adding additional d20 minutes delay)
  • 91-92 Flight crew has worked too many hours (2d10 minutes delay waiting for new crew to arrive)
  • 89-90 Mechanical issues with the plane (2d10 minutes delay waiting for repair and sign off)
  • 87-88 Small overhead bins (d20 minutes delay as they keep begging everyone to check bags at the gate and everyone ignores them and they have to check all the bags when they board and discover their bags don’t fit)
  • 85-86 The seat beside you on the plane is occupied by a 4 year old who spends the entire flight telling you all about his favorite Pokemon in great detail
  • 83-84 You have a middle seat between two squabbling siblings, half way through the flight one throws up in the air sickness bag and shows it to his brother  
  • 81-82 You get an upgrade to first class
  • 79-80 You are in first class but end up sitting next to a bratty 5 year old and have to cut his meat for him
  • 77-78 You accidentally board using the boarding pass for the wrong flight causing mayhem because your boarding pass did not scan properly when you boarded and now number of passengers on the plane does not match the number of scanned boarding passes.
  • 75-76 You carefully packed your race gear in carry on but your carry on does not fit in the overhead and they check your bag after you board the plane. Roll a d20 if you roll 5 or higher your bag shows up on the luggage carousel.
  • 73-74 They lose your checked bags
  • 71-72 You open the bag of pretzels and they fly open showering pretzels on your seat mates
  • 69-70 You have a 7 year sitting behind you who keeps kicking your seat
  • 67-68 You get an exit row seat with extra leg space
  • 65-66 You get a seat that does not recline
  • 63-64 Flight is overbooked you are bumped to the next flight.
  • 61-62 They changed planes, your exit row seat is now a middle seat in the back of the plane
  • 59-60 Thunderstorm at arrival airport (roll d20, if you roll a 1 they turn your plane around and fly back to your place of departure and you have to rebook on another flight, otherwise 2d10minutes delay)
  • 57-58 You flew Southwest Airlines and they cancelled your flight due to staffing shortages during COVID
  • 55-56 Bumpy flight
  • 53-54 Smooth flight
  • 51-52 Person in front of you reclines their seat so far back their head is in your lap
  • 49-50 Short line at security, get an extra drink pre-flight
  • 47-48 Long line at security, subtract one from endurance for sprinting to the gate
  • 45-46 TSA Pre-check for security, get two extra drinks pre-flight
  • 43-44 You have TSA pre-check but TSA pre-check is not open, subtract one from endurance for sprinting to the gate
  • 41-42 Long customs line, subtract one from endurance from stress thinking you will miss your flight
  • 39-40 Short customs line, get one extra drink pre-flight
  • 37-38 Nexus or other express customs clearance, get two extra drinks pre-flight
  • 35-36 You have Nexus or other express customs clearance, but the kiosks are not working, subtract one from endurance for sprinting to the gate
  • 33-34 The paperback book in your carry on triggers a manual search of your bag at security
  • 31-32 You get a pat down because you set off the metal detector
  • 29-30 You forgot you had a bottle of sunscreen in your carry on, throw out your sunscreen because it’s a liquid over 50 ml
  • 27-28 You get pulled aside for the explosive test on your hands and laptop
  • 25-26 You spot another Boston runner at the gate, compare notes on marathons
  • 23-24 Strong headwinds (d20 minutes flight delay)
  • 21-22 Strong tailwinds (d20 minutes early)
  • 19-20 In flight entertainment system has a movie you haven’t seen before and want to watch
  • 17-18 You have in flight entertainment system but you only have Bluetooth headphones and can’t bring yourself to purchase in flight ear buds
  • 15-16 Gate crew is not ready when you land (d20 minutes delay deplaning)
  • 13-14 Dust in the door handle of the emergency exit in the exit row causes the door to emit a high pitched squealing noise, roll d20 to determine if sound stops after you reach cruising altitude
  • 11-12 Plane is struck by lightning, no flight delay but add 10 to stress level
  • 9-10 Propeller plane and you got the seat beside the propeller lose 5 decibel of hearing unless  you have noise reducing headphones, in which case lose 2 decibels of hearing
  • 7-8 A fleet of antique airplanes is landing at your airport (d20 minutes delay)
  • 5-6 Spot a celebrity on your flight
  • 3-4 Your boarding pass says SSSS roll a d20, if you roll 11-20 you make your flight, roll 1-10 you miss your flight and have to catch the next one
  • 1-2 Your name matches someone on the watch list – miss your flight into the US and catch the next one

If you survived the airport wild magic and arrived in Boston in time to pick up your bib advanced to Stage 7 Bib pick up

Stage 7 Bib pick up

Congratulations you have arrived in Boston and hopefully you arrived with your running gear. Proceed to Boylston Street and enter the Proof of Vaccination tent. Roll a d20 to determine if your vaccination is approved by the WHO and you get your runner’s bracelet. If you fail your throw, advance to the COVID test tent and roll a d20 to determine if your COVID test is negative, add 10 to your score if you are fully vaccinated, add 5 to your score if you wear a mask in public locations, subtract one for every meal indoors at a restaurant, movie, or large public event attended in the past 14 days. If you fail this throw your adventure ends here. If you make the throw accept your runner’s bracelet and proceed to the Bib pick up.

Look up your bib number. Roll a d4 to determine the number of people in line in front of you. Take a moment to appreciate how incredibly efficient the vaccination check and bib pick up were this year and don’t forget to thank the amazing volunteers.  Then look down in your hands and realize you are holding your race bib. Let it hit you, get a little emotional, it’s okay. Enter the expo. Roll 3d10 to determine the total amount of money you spend  on official Boston race gear and souvenirs. If you wear a Women’s size Small or Extra Small roll a d20 to determine if they have what you want in your size. Subtract 2 from your roll for every 6 hours the race expo was open because all the other women already bought the smaller sizes. Do a wisdom check to see if you can restrain yourself from buying the Medium because it is too big for you, but you really like that blue windbreaker with the dark blue sleeves.*

*My sister passed the wisdom check and did not purchase the size Medium windbreaker and I was relatively restrained this year only purchasing the Celebration jacket, a long sleeved shirt, two pint glasses, a pin, and a badge.

Roll a d6 to determine the number of hours you spend going to sporting goods shops across Boston because the reduced size race expo does not have ANY running shoes, gels, nip guards, socks, etc… anything you needed for race day will have to be purchased elsewhere, but, if you want a Sam Adams beer they’ve got you covered*

*Did you know there is a Marathon Sports store out by Harvard Square? They didn’t have my size at the Marathon Sports on Boylston.

Advance to Stage 8

Stage 8 Take it all in!

You’ve done all your running around, it’s time to take in the sights, maybe go find a cannoli or some clam chowder. Do a wisdom check, if you fail the wisdom check you eat the cannoli* or clam chowder the night before the race and make a port-a-potty stop mid-race. If you arrived Saturday, go for an easy run Sunday morning along the river or if you are staying by the airport, along the ocean at Revere Beach.

*James

Take a photo at the finish line, then get back to your room and lay out all your race gear. Tomorrow you run the Boston marathon! Advance to Stage 9 Get to the start line

Stage 9 Get to the start line

Get up early, dress up in your best throw away pre-race outfit and make your way to the school bus to drop off your gear check if you don’t have a convenient hotel or generous friend or family member to lug your stuff around. Then begin the walk to the bus, board the bus at the scheduled time for your bib colour. Roll a d20, if you roll a 1 the bus driver gets lost and you arrive at the start an hour later than planned*

*Yeah one of the bus drivers got completely lost on the way to the start, and took an extra hour to get to the start line

Once you arrive in Hopkinton, start walking to the Start line. Stop at the port-a-potties, roll a d10 to determine the number of people in front of you in line. Gain 10 minutes if you are a guy and use the open urinal zone.

Begin to discard your throwaway gear into the clear bags, garbage in the black bags. Do a wisdom check to determine if you do any stretches or warm up. Continue walking to the start line. Take one last photo if you have your phone because with the rolling start, as soon as you reach the start line your Boston marathon is underway! Advance to Stage 10 Run the marathon

Stage 10 Run the marathon

Oh my god, I’m here, I’m running the Boston marathon, there are runners all around me, there are fans cheering, try not to run too fast on that initial downhill. Hey look there’s the Ashland Biker bar. Oh wait, uphill now, but look at that cute Labrador holding the Boston Strong flags. Natick… more hills and there’s Santa Claus at the top of the hill. Framingham, more cheering crowds, more hills. Wellesley another hill and the famous Wellesley college girls scream tunnel but no kisses from the girls this year, I guess COVID has changed some aspects of the race itself. Water stops are soooo well organized, amazing volunteers, and here we are in Newton for even more hills! Lots of crowds to cheer you up the hills, good thing because that first Newton hill goes on and on and on. Boston college has a great cheering section too! Brookline and wait I’m confused is this section flat??? Haven’t seen much of that today, I really should have done more hill training.  Now entering Boston, one mile to go, Right on Hereford, left on Boyleston and it’s time to smile for the camera, you are about to finish the 125th Boston marathon! The weather was not as hot as forecast you might even PB*

*Stephanie, Rachel

Stage 11 You did it

My feet hurt, my legs hurt, I just ran 42.2 km / 26.2 miles but as soon as I hit that finish line, the 400 m walk to the gear check feels like another marathon. I make it to the exit, my sister Judy is waiting for me, I greet her briefly and inform her when she wants to find me I’ll be collapsed on the grass in Boston commons. This picture was taken at least 20 minutes later because I found the strength to sit upright again 🙂 Congratulations you have completed the 125th Boston marathon!

For more of my race reports, including comparisons of Boston and New York marathons, the practical guide to Boston marathon weekend (pre-COVID), or Boston marathon treadmill settings visit my page of running related posts.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Go, Sue! This is quite the Andrew family tradition. Any PBs this time?

    Reply

  2. Reblogged this on Run K2J and commented:
    A highly entertaining account of the 2021 Boston Marathon and what it toll to get to the start line.

    Reply

  3. An outstanding effort in both ways, description and race

    Reply

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