Posts Tagged ‘2023’

Boston to Big Sur 2023 the graphic novel

In 2017 I ran Boston to Big Sur. This is a special registration for special (aka crazy, committed, or stupid you decide) people. You run the Boston marathon on the East coast then 6 or 13 days later depending on the year you run the Big Sur marathon on the West Coast. I’m not that crazy I chose a year with a 13 day gap.

In 2023, my friend Christopher was running Boston for the first time, so… we decided to go all in and do Boston to Big Sur. The following is a comparison illustrated by yours truly (if you need a family portrait I do commissions) comparing the day in Big Sur to the day in Boston. This is the sequel to my Boston 2023 graphic novel race report.

2:15 AM Alarm goes off. When I registered nobody warned me I’d be getting up at 2:15 AM

2:15 AM in Boston, sleeping, get some rest I’ve got a marathon to run today

2:30 AM Stumble into the kitchen to make my brown sugar and cinnamon instant oatmeal. Nice to have a kitchen so I have a real bowl and spoon!

2:30 AM Still sleeping

2:50 AM Apply the body glide. Toes, feet, and other places that make we wonder why body glide with built in sunscreen exists

2:50 AM Zzzzzzzzzz

3:25 AM Christopher and I drive to the Embassy Suites to catch our assigned shuttle bus.

3:25 AM Roll over

3:35 AM hand over our ‘purple ticket’ for the 3:45 AM bus from Embassy Suites. Excited to be on a ‘real’ bus instead of a school bus

3:35 AM Still snoozing away

4:05 AM Try not to think about the fact this big bus is navigating a windy twisty road in the dark along a cliff.

4:05 AM Still snoozing

4:35 AM Our bus is one of the earlier ones to arrive so we nab spots on the grass next to the plastic fence race organizers set up to remind all the boy runners the risk of seeing all of nature as your urinal, since this particular region of nature is widely infested with poison oak

4:35 AM blissful sleep

4:45 AM It’s still dark out. Some of the port-a-potties are in areas without lighting. Once you close that door it’s pitch black. Ripping the wrapper off a new roll of toilet paper is remarkably difficult in the dark, but the fact I am the very first to use this stall makes me slightly less terrified of what might lie on the surface of the port-a-potty hidden in the dark

4:45 AM Alarm goes off (blanket magically changes color from red to green because I’m too lazy to redraw and I accidentally used the wrong color on the previous pictures)

5:20 AM Runner sleeping has a large spider sitting on his shorts, Spend the next 15 minutes discussing with other runners waiting around whether to flick it off. Because the spider doesn’t look poisonous and is right on his butt, decide to leave it unless it starts moving.

5:20 AM Grabbing the brown bag breakfast our hotel prepared for Boston runners since we leave before the breakfast buffet opens

6:00 AM Drop off gear check bag at the truck. Too late we realize Christopher’s inhaler is in his gear check. No they will not go sifting through the pile of bags in the truck to try and retrieve it

Cartoon of runner on subway train going to start of race

6:00 AM Sitting on the train headed to the finish line where you drop off gear check and catch buses to the start

6:20 AM Start heading to corral, Find Yvonne standing in massive line for the port-a-potty. She accidentally left her gloves in her gear check bag. I had already been toying with not wearing mine, so hand them to an appreciative Yvonne. Also tell her about the shorter port-a-potty line where we had been sitting earlier

6:20 AM Switched from red line train to green line train

6:43 AM In Corral B waiting to start, no plastic fencing and no poison oak in sight, so several male runners visit nature’s urinal

6:43 At the port-a-potties beside bag check, why are the seats always wet? No don’t answer, I don’t want to know and I will use the hand sanitizer when I leave

6:53 AM Crossing the start line, Start the Garmin

6:53 AM Walking with masses of other runners from the buses towards Boston Common for bus loading

6:55 AM Realize shoelace is untied. Move to side of road but runners are packed tight and faster runners are dashing to the side to get by. Christopher acts as barricade so I can tie my shoe without fear of being run over.

6:55 AM Walking along Boston Common to the security entrance for bus loading

7:20 AM 3 miles in (~5 km) Big Sur has the best mile marker signs! Despite the near perfect running weather. I do not get a speeding ticket.

7:20 AM They aren’t letting my wave go through security yet, sitting under a tree staying off my feet

7:44 AM 5.5 miles (~9 km) Meet a guy whose run Big Sur over 20 times! Ask him what he thinks of the weather today, his answer “We don’t know the weather yet”

cartoon of runner bundled up waiting for race start

7:44 AM It gets cold just sitting here waiting, bundle up in my mylar blanket and put on garbage bag and plastic shower cap to try and stay warm

8:10 AM at 8 miles (~13 km) OMG the wind, now I know what that guy meant

8:10 AM Seriously is any guy capable of not splattering the seat in a port-a-potty?

8:38 AM at 9.5 miles (~15 km) There goes another hat! I’m carrying my visor in my hand this wind, the only sound you can hear is bibs flapping in the wind

8:38AM Sitting on the bus on my way to Hopkinton, the start of the Boston marathon, glad I’m not sitting in the back like I did last year, less bumpy up front

8:46 AM 10.5 miles (~17 km) Group of Japanese drummers on side of road providing motivation on the biggest climb of the course. Stop to play one of the drums, because this is a great race for a PR (Photo record)

8:46 AM Are we there yet?

9:02 AM at 12 miles (~19 km) Take a photo of the amazing view at Hurricane point, genuinely concerned that the wind will blow my phone out of my hand and over the cliff

9:02 AM Try not to think abou tthe fact we have to run all the way back

9:04 AM Start running downhill from Hurricane point to Bixby Bridge but I’m not running any faster because the wind is blowing me back up the hill

9:04 AM Are we there yet?

9:17 AM 13.1 miles halfway (21.1 km) Pose for a photo by the grand piano at the halfway mark and amused by his girlfriend standing nearby wearing a shirt that says “Dibs on the Piano Player”

9:17 AM No really are we there yet?

9:45 AM at 16 miles (~26 km) See ponies on side of road and a sign saying “Free Pony Hugs”. Stop for pony hug

9:45 AM Yay! We finally got to Hopkinton and I was able to secure a dry spot under the tent

10:53 AM 23 miles Another hill … really?

10:53 AM Gun sounded for Wave 3 at 10:50 but haven’t crossed the actual start line yet ‘cuz I’m back in corral 8

11:10 AM 25 miles (40 km) ANOTHER hill? Not even the guy on the accordion playing Roll out the Barrel can make this fun

11:10 AM .5 miles (1 km) High fiving all the kids on the sidelines, running too fast because it’s that nice downhill at the start of Boston

11:20 AM, 26 miles (41.6 km). The sign says it all

11:20 AM thoroughly enjoying having lots of people in the crowds yell GO SUSAN!

11:22 AM 26.2 miles (42.2 km) Crossing the finish line!

11:22 AM 3 miles (5km) Overhear another runner asking out loud who is Susan? as they’ve been listening to people yell Go Susan for the past 2 miles.

12:54 PM Awards ceremony completed, hanging out in the VIP Tent with the other Boston 2 Big Sur finishers rocking our jackets, medals and Yvonne’s plaque for 3rd place in her age group

12:54 PM Running through Wellesley getting a kiss on a cheek from one of the girls

3:58 PM Showered, changed, and out celebrating two marathons on two coasts in 13 days at the pub with glasses of wine for Yvonne and I, non-alcoholic beer for Christopher

3:58 PM Sitting on the curb in the family meeting zone huddled in my mylar blanket looking for Christopher

8:35 PM Fast asleep

8:35 PM Celebrating finishing Boston with Smores and friends

Thank you to Christopher for sharing this coast to coast 52.4 mile adventure with me and to all my run buds, friends and family who support this craziness from near or far and to anyone who humours me by reading my race reports! Below are the photos that inspired my artwork. Any resemblance of the artwork to an actual photo is an unexpected surprise.

If you enjoyed this post check out my other race reports, running quizzes, tips and more!

Boston marathon 2023…a day in the life

Inspired by a clever New Yorker article sent to me by my friend Chris Randall, my 2023 Boston race report compares my Marathon Monday routine in Boston to a typical Monday at home. Hopefully it provides a few knowing chuckles from my running friends, and a few behind the scene peeks for my non-runner friends.

4:45 AM Marathon Monday in Boston, my watch alarm and phone alarm go off, don’t want to risk sleeping in today!

4:45 AM Monday at home I’m sleeping

4:55 AM Stumble down to the hotel lobby to put my oatmeal in the microwave, didn’t add enough water so go to the washroom to add a bit more water and another 30 seconds in the microwave

4:55 AM Sleeping

5:00 AM Apply Body Glide to toes, feet, and many other places including those places which are the reason runners do not share Body Glide

5:00 AM Zzzzzzzzzzzz

5:05 AM finish packing gear check bag that includes warm clothes to put on after I finish, recovery sandals, Boston 2023 jacket, Advil, and a Twix chocolate bar

5:05 AM Sleeping

5:15 AM Head down to the hotel lobby with Judy to meet Yvonne and Mike to drive to the train station

5:15 AM did I hear something? Nah go back to sleep

5:20 AM Grab one of the brown bag breakfast bags the hotel made for all the marathon runners who are leaving before breakfast buffet is open

5:20 AM Zzzzzzzz

5:38 AM Make it to the platform in our stylish pre-race wardrobes with 2 minutes to spare before the train arrives

5:38 AM Yup, still snoozing away

5:40 AM OK, got to the train, breathe. It’s not hard to tell which people are going to the Boston marathon as we clutch our gear check bags

5:40 AM Still sleeping

6:13 AM Change trains from Red line to Green line. I find someone asking for change and offer him the extra banana and bottled water from my brown bag breakfast

6:13 AM Have I mentioned I work at home? So yup still sleeping

6:35 AM Drop off gear check at finish line. Yvonne and I stop so a stranger can take a picture of us in our stylish onesie and bathrobe

6:35 AM Clock radio alarm has gone off, lie in bed listening to CBC local news

6:45 AM Pulling up my shorts in port-a-potty and hear someone say “Oh I think there’s someone in that one” just as the door to my port-a-potty opens… I guess I didn’t turn that latch completely to the locked position

6:45 AM CBC Radio morning

7:00 AM – Follow huge mass of runners making their way from gear check to go through security for bus loading. Mike tells us we can cut across Boston Commons and the security lines will be shorter. He’s right.

7:00 AM National news

7:05 AM They aren’t letting anyone through security until their wave is loading onto the buses. Judy & Mike are in wave 2, Yvonne and I are in wave 3 which isn’t loading yet, so find a tree and settle in to wait. Glad it’s not raining.

7:05 AM Feed the cats

7:40 AM It’s cold sitting here waiting so I break out the garbage bag to put over the top of my robe and put on a shower cap to try to trap the heat and stay warm. Yvonne has gone to Starbucks in search of a bathroom because there are no port-a-potties this side of security. Starbucks gave out free coffee to the runners in line for the one bathroom in the store.

7:40 AM Breakfast of champions.. oatmeal with almonds, maple syrup and blueberries

8:10 AM Wave 3 is loading, so we’ve gone through security. We don’t miss our last chance to use a port-a-potty before we get on the buses. I carefully ensure door is properly locked and wonder why yet another port-a-potty seat is covered with mysterious drops from the previous user. Wipe off seat with toilet paper and take advantage of Purell upon exit.

8:10 AM Complete Wordle, Quordle, and Unwordle with help from Cluseau and Oola

8:25 AM After navigating very chaotic bus loading lines, Yvonne and I sit on the bus and settle in for the long ride to the start and try not to think about the fact we have to run all the way back. Amused to spot a driver in the lane beside us with a bowl of oatmeal in his lap, casually eating the oatmeal as he drives along

8:25 AM A little pre-work yoga, Cluseau sits on my lap during shavasana

9:40 AM arrive at Hopkinton, the athlete’s start village. I assume the wave 2 runners are gone so I just nab a spot in the first tent which keeps me dry as the rain moves in. Try to relax and stay warm. Time to put on my bright pink, shiny new, carbon plate super shoes.

9:40 AM work my way through the piles of email that arrived overnight

10:20 AM Wave 3 corral 8 is called to the start line. I drop my old running shoes off in one of the many clothing donation bags held by some of the thousands of volunteers rocking the blue and yellow volunteer jackets

10:20 AM Online meeting

10:40 AM Stop at the last set of port-a-potties on the way to the start corrals. Unexpectedly find some of my run buddies (Rita, Vincent, Faye & Diane) doing the same thing so we stop for a quick selfie showing off our fine assortment of disposable rain gear. Experienced marathon runners who knew what to pack!

10:40 AM Document review

10:50 AM Wave 3 has started, but it takes a while for Corral 8 to start moving. Bid farewell to my stunning purple bathrobe but keep the garbage bag because it’s still a bit cold

10:50 AM More email

10:56 AM Rip off the garbage bag and cross the start line. Hit Start on my Garmin. I’m about to run the Boston marathon, how terrifying awesome is that!

10:56 AM still answering email, Cluseau is helping

11:34 AM 6.5 km (4 miles) into the race, running through Ashland. I high five one of the many cheering kids spectating as he counts off each high five he receives (298, 299, …) My Garmin says I ran my last km in 5:13/km. Feeling good, lots of downhill in the first 10 km. I’m warmed up now, I take off my arm warmers and tie them to my bib belt.

11:34 AM Team meeting

12:15 PM 14 km (about 8 1/2 miles) into the race, running through Framingham. I hear people shouting GO CANADA! The person in the Canada shirt is Helene from Ottawa! I take my phone out of my pocket for a selfie and we end up running the same pace for a few km. After about a mile she calls out “They are yelling Go Susan more often than Go Canada” did I mention I have my name prominently displayed on my shirt. My Garmin says the last km took 5:40 min.

12: 15 PM Lunchtime, clam chowder, Oola waits hopefully in case there are any table scraps for her. At some point I should probably change out of my pyjamas

12:31 PM 17 km (about 10 1/2 miles) into the race, running through Natick. I see one of my favorite landmarks, Santa Claus is at the top of the hill on the right hand side. My Garmin told me I ran the last km in 5:27.

12:31 PM Done lunch, get distracted reading book 6 in the Wheel of time series, Matt just arrived in the Aes Sedai village.

12:54 PM 21 km (13 miles) into the race, running through Wellesley. This is where all the Wellesley college girls hold up signs offering to give you a kiss, I’m not out for a goal time today so I head over to the fence and get a kiss on the cheek from one of the girls. “Kiss me I’m blonde” though she’s not blonde, I’m confused but don’t have time to stop and enquire. My Garmin says I just ran a 5:29 minute km (8:51 min/mile pace) I’m pleasantly surprised by how good I feel running this pace, the cool weather must be working for me.

12:54 PM The chapters with Matt are the best chapters in this series. I really should get back to work.

1:48 PM 31 km (19.2 miles), running through Newton home of the infamous Newton hills. The last and best known of the Newton hills is Heartbreak Hill, the last big climb in the race. Got caught in rain a few miles back so put the arm warmers back on. At 32 km another runner comes up to me and asks “Is this heartbreak hill?” I apparently can’t keep track of hills and answer “Yes” he looks at me and says “Let’s do this!” we fist bump and head up the hill. Apparently, even after 6 Boston marathons I can’t keep track of the Newton hills, because Heartbreak was actually the next hill, whoops! My Garmin says I ran the last km in 5:08, and the one before that in 5:09, it also reported a couple of sub 5 min kms in the last stretch. As much as I would love to think I am running that fast through the hills I know better and realize I can no longer trust my Garmin.

1:48 PM Another meeting, still in my PJs

1:55 PM Around 32.5 km (~20 miles) running past Boston college. The students read the name off my shirt and cheer loudly. When I reach out to high five one of them, everyone else leans out for a high five and screaming encouragement. My hand hurts by the time I get past them all. My Garmin says I ran the last km in 5:00 (8:00 min/mile) sufficiently inaccurate that I no longer have any clue what my pace is.

1:55 PM Still in the meeting

2:22 PM 37 km (23 miles) into the race, running through Brookline and I’m not completely miserable which is a treat at mile 23. I can’t trust the pace on my Garmin (5 min/km), but the elapsed time is accurate and it says 3:26:08 which means if I can maintain a sub 6 min/km, I could finish in under 4 hours. I’ve only managed that once in my past 6 Boston marathons.

2:22 PM Back to email

2:40 PM 40.6 km (25.2 miles) running past the Citgo sign in Boston. One mile to go and elapsed time on my Garmin is 3:44:15. I am solidly on pace to finish under 4 hours and I’m actually on pace to run my first ever BQ in Boston! Fuck yeah, time to leave everything on the course.

2:40 PM Take a break from email and meetings to pet the cat who has settled in on my lap

2:48 PM Cross the finish line. I just ran my first ever BQ in Boston! 3:52:15! Start to feel dizzy, make sure I keep moving so I don’t pass out.

2:48 PM Unexpected chat with co-worker, kicked Cluseau off my lap because he was being a nuisance

3:22 PM Kept moving and got my medal and mylar blanket. Picked up my gear check time to put on warm clothes because as soon as you stop running it is COLD! Wonderful surprise as Yvonne, Mike and Judy find me. Don’t care whose watching, I rip off my running shirt and put on long sleeve lifa and Run K2J Hoodie. I give Yvonne my sweatpants since I have both sweats and jeans in by bag. Finally I put on the 2023 Boston jacket. Shortly after we find Rita, Faye, Dianne and Vincent as well! We did it! Now lets go find somewhere to get warm before someone gets hypothermia.

Back to email

4:02 PM I find Christopher who crossed the finished line at 3:33 PM, his hotel is walking distance from the finish so he didn’t check a bag and he is shivering! He informs me I need to walk him back to hotel and untie his shoes so he take a hot shower . Hopefully the hotel has an industrial boiler from all the runners thawing out with hot showers.

4:02 PM Still getting work done but Cluseau is starting to get hungry and is dropping hints that I should stop work and feed him

4:55 PM Christopher’s support team (Karin, Abram & Julia) finally get back to the hotel despite the derailed train. It was wonderful to see them at mile 6. We pose for a quick pic before they head out to the pub for celebratory drinks (the carefully selected pub has Christopher’s preferred NA beer) and I head back to my hotel

4:55 PM Cluseau says feed me now!

8:35 PM Stumble from Christopher’s hotel to the red line since train lines are still messed up from the derailment. Take the train back to the hotel. Judy picks me up at the train station in the car so I don’t have to walk the extra 800 meters. We drive to a celebratory dinner with Yvonne, Mike & Pat at Gyu Kaku where I can have my traditional pre or post marathon dessert Smores! Smiles all around. Sneezes and sniffles from Yvonne because she is allergic to cats and in case you hadn’t noticed, I have cats and the sweat pants she borrowed apparently had cat hair on them.

8:35 PM Watching John Wick 2 with Trevor and the cats. No Smores, no medals… but on the other hand I can walk down the stairs without a railing.

Thanks to all the crazy runners who joined me training or running this adventure and of course a huge thank you to all those who cheered on site and remotely! Any resemblance to persons real or fictional is entirely intentional but highly unlikely given my artistic ability

Boston Marathon 50 years later – 1973 vs 2023

How has the Boston marathon changed over the years? I’ve run it a few times, including 2022 and I’ll be back in 2023. But what was it like fifty years ago? I had the opportunity to find out from Ken Parker who qualified for his first Boston marathon in 1972 and ran his first Boston in 1973. I hope you enjoy this peek into the Boston marathon time capsule!

You may also be interested to read about what is was like for Ken to qualify for Boston before you could Google ‘marathon training plans.’

By the numbers

The 2022 Boston marathon had 28,604 runners. The temperature reached a high of 54F. The men’s winner was Evans Chebet of Kenya in a time of 2:06:51. The women’s winner was Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya in a time of 2:21:02. The men’s wheelchair winner was Daniel Romanchuk of the USA in a time of 1:26:58 the women’s wheelchair winner was Manuela Schär of Switzerland in a time of 1:41:08

The 1973 Boston marathon had 1,384 runners. The temperature reached a high of 78F. The men’s winner was Jon Andersen of Eugene, Oregon beat out the favorite Frank Shorter with a time of 2:16:03. The women’s winner was Jacqueline Hansen a college student from Granada Hills, California in a time of 3:06:26 beating out the other 13 women.

Ottawa Citizen article on 1973 Boston Marathon

Race Hotels

dollar sign

Susan – 2023 “The Courtyard (not a fancy hotel) nearest the finish line is $769 USD a night Boston weekend. Too rich for me, so I stay further out and take one of the trains down to the Commons to catch the buses to the start. Regardless of where I stay, I always meet other Boston marathon runners walking around in Boston jackets from past years. The breakfast buffet inevitably runs out of bananas.”

Ken – 1973 “I used to stay at the Boston Sheraton right beside the finish. I was in the Royal Canadian Air Force and the military in Canada covered the cost of hotel and travel for us if we qualified for Boston. You could tell it was a popular hotel for Boston marathoners because there were always plenty of runners walking down stairs backwards in the hotel the day after the marathon.”

Race Swag & Expo

Susan – 2023 “When you pick up your bib you get a technical long sleeved shirt, a laptop sticker, a printed program and various strange goodies from sponsors including a ‘Boston Cream Pie’ flavoured gel from Gu. The race expo has just about every running shoe company, and running gear supplier on site. In addition there is an entire section of official Boston marathon clothing and souvenirs. The ‘must have’ for every first time Boston runner is of course the $125 USD celebration jacket.”

Boston marathon 2022 race souvenirs

Ken – 1973 “There was no race expo, there was no swag, or celebration jackets, all you got was your bib and a basic cotton t-shirt.”

Boston marathon 1975 race shirt

The route and getting to the start

Susan – 2023 “We catch the buses to the start from Boston Commons. You have to pass through security who ensure you are only carrying the official clear bag onto the bus. Volunteers co-ordinate the bus loading, and you have to show them your bib or they won’t let you board the bus. The bus drops you off at the school in Hopkinton, and you wait outside until your wave is called to the start. There are 4 waves each with 8 corrals. The wheelchair racers start around 9 AM, and the first runners leave around 9:30 AM.”

Ken – 1973 “The race route was the same as it today. We started in Hopkinton. There were buses by the hotel that would take us to the start. Jock Semple, the race director (the same Boston race director who tried to push Katherine Switzer off the Boston course in 1967) used to manage the bus loading and would get quite grumpy if runners weren’t following directions. You had to make sure your bib was visible or you’d be sure to get an earful.  Once we arrived at Hopkinton, we would hang out in the gym at the school until it was time to start. The race started at noon. There were no corrals and waves, just one bulk start.”

1975 Boston marathon start

The cheering crowds

Susan – 2023 “The city really gets behind the marathon. There are 30,000 runners and 40-45% of them are women. Police, firefighters, and military are everywhere keeping runners and spectators safe. Spectators line the entire course cheering us on. I always look forward to the insane cheering at Wellesley and Boston college. If you see anyone in a Boston College shirt, tuck in behind them as you approach the school, they will get extra cheering that you can use to give you a burst of energy. The other runners who get the biggest cheers are usually people who were injured during the Boston marathon bombing and have returned to run the race”

Wellesley College Boston marathon 2022

Ken – 1973 “One of the most wonderful things about the Boston marathon is the way the city gets behind it. This was true even in 1973. Even though there were only one thousand runners, the Boston police were out firmly keeping everyone off the course reminding them it was marathon day! Locals would be out on their lawns and on the streets cheering us on. And yes, even in 1973, the loudest cheering section were the college girls at Wellesley (Marathon Monday | Wellesley College) . 1972 was the first year they officially allowed women to enter Boston, and the Wellesley girls cheered even louder when a female runner went by. Some of the male runners would tuck in with a female runner as they went past Wellesley to soak up that extra energy.”

Wellesley College Boston marathon cheering 1970s

Pacing and Support

Garmin watch

Susan – 2023 “Boston doesn’t have pacers, but they do have clocks every 5 km and mileage markers every mile and of course almost every runner on the course is wearing a Garmin. You do get the occasional spectator who yells out ‘you are almost there’ when you still have 10 miles to go, but you know exactly where you are and exactly how far you have to go at any given moment. No need to carry water or electrolytes as there is no shortage of water and aid stations along the course, supplemented by spectators offering beer, coke, freezies, paper towels, orange slices and more!”

Ken – 1973 “Pacing was a little more challenging than it is now. They had timing stations, but they were portable, and instead of placing them at specific distance intervals they would be placed at geographical landmarks along the route like Natick or Wellesley. But even those didn’t help most of us because after the lead runners passed the timing stations, they would pack up and head to the finish. We didn’t have Garmins to keep track of our mileage either, so we mostly relied on the locals who would yell out “10 miles to go.” This could be a little unreliable as inevitably a few minutes later someone would yell out “only 15 miles to go.” There were no water stations either, but the local residents would come to our rescue standing in their front yards with garden hoses. I didn’t care, it was still amazing, because even then it was *BOSTON*!”

The finish line

Susan – 2023 “We all have timing chips on our bibs, and there is a mat ahead of the finish line so the announcers can see your name before you cross and call out names of runners as they come in. In every finish line photo, you can spot runners runner reaching down to stop their Garmins, and within minutes of finishing we can look up our official finish times on our cell phones.”

Boston marathon Finish line 2022 runners stopping their Garmins

Ken – 1973 “I had no Garmin, but I did still run with a watch that I would check to see my time as I crossed the finish. Capturing official finish times was a little more complicated. There were no timing chips and mats. At the finish, as you ran across the finish line a volunteer would press a button on the Chronomix timer. The Chronomix would record the time for each runner in sequential order. As soon as you crossed the finish line you were corralled single file into the finish chute which kept all the runners in the order in which you finished so the volunteers could write down our bib numbers in order of finish position. Then the volunteers would map the order of the finishers to the finish times captured by the Chronomix.”

Chronomix timer

Medals & post race snacks

Susan -2023 “After you cross the finish line you head down the chute where an army of volunteers hand you a mylar blanket, your medal, and an assortment of snacks to help you refuel. Medics with wheelchairs at the ready scan the hoards of finishers in case they need to whisk a woozy runner to the med tent. You stumble out of the secure area to the meeting area or the Commons to meet up with any friends or family and ideally head out for a celebratory meal and drink afterwards. In 2022, I finished in 4:07:03 18420th overall. My time is more than 20 minutes slower than my qualifying time, but I really don’t care, I just finished the Boston marathon!”

Ken – 1973 “There were no finisher medals (Note from Susan: It looks like the first finisher medals were handed out in Boston in 1983, a pewter medal with no ribbon) but we would celebrate over drinks afterwards and the next day the Boston Globe would publish all of the results in the paper. I checked the paper and I ran 3:22:10 placing 541st overall. But to be honest, I was not too concerned or excited about my time, It was a major achievement to run and finish Boston!”

Celebrating Boston marathon finish 2022

Who are Ken and Susan?

Ken Parker has been active participant in the development of marathon as a mainstream sport and in particular with the development of competitive women’s running which he champions to this day. He was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and coached the OAC women’s running team in Ottawa well into his 80s. This post is the second in what I hope will be a series of posts, as I hope to continue interviewing Ken to learn more about his experience in the marathon space and in particular his involvement with the evolution of competitive women’s running!

Susan aka hockeygeekgirl, got into marathon running in her 40s and was lucky enough to find a great group of running friends who make the long runs more bearable and join her on many a fun run adventure including 6 Boston marathons. If you enjoyed this post you may want to check out her other running posts, everything from race reports, to practical tips on how to make the most out of your Boston marathon weekend, to running disaster stories from runners just like you!