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Boston marathon, 21 April 2014

(Boston marathon 2022 [1] )

At the start I was warned for the hills on the second 21 km, especially Heartbreak Hill at 32 km. “This is not your flat Amsterdam or Berlin run you are used to”.

2014 is a special year for Boston, with a special marathon, see the promotion video:


So I mailed around that I would organize a charity run:
"Be a sponsor, for Nepalese in need, at the Boston marathon, Monday 21 April !!!"
www.sponsortrek.nl. See link "donation".

(Note: As of 25 May we received 11 donations, in total Euro 700).

Boston marathon map, train and subway stations and elevation change.


The Boston marathon ( www.baa.org ), 21 April, my 6th and the final one?

Or will it be Athens in 1.5 years, the one and only Classic?

New York is not so interesting, a commercial marathon with one time “walkers”. Never ask someone who only ran New York for a their finishing time, likely to be 5 hours. Perhaps when you are past 80 and join the freak show.

The London Marathon? This will depend on the success of the my charity run in Boston. London is all about charity.

Boston marathon, why run

Boston is the most sympathetic, non-commercial marathon, for which you need to qualify. However, the limits are “brutal”. For the elite runners, only 10-15%, as you need to qualify running a previous marathon within 1.5 years

So far, all my Amsterdam marathons were below 3:28 h, the limit for age group 50-54, so I was urged by American colleagues to apply.

You must run, you qualify, I don't !!!”.

It is the oldest marathon in the USA and the first run was in 1897, see [history]. The oldest marathon was in Greece in 1896, see Marathon on Wikipedia.

Charity run

Given the enormous attention of the event this year, I decided to try a sponsor run and asked around a hundred persons for donations. The message was strong:

"You could be a sponsor, for Nepalese in medical and social need, see: www.sponsortrek.nl
Donate € 1 - 5, depending on your gambling skills, for every minute below running 4 hours.
Reply with a promise, the Euro's per minute and estimated time. Double the Euro's below the estimated time when I run faster."
Details: www.sponsortrek.nl. See link "Donation".
Stichting Sponsortrek Nepal
The Netherlands
bank Fortis nr.
IBAN NL75 FTSB 0861 1475 45

Example: estimated time 3:45 h, achieved time 3:42, with 1 Euro per km donation: (15 x 1) + (3 x 2) = 21 Euro's.

Note: It is all about the number of people contributing, not the amount. Show your support.

I made seven trips to Nepal, in 1974, and the period from 1997 to 2004, see link. It is the best country for pristine mountain trekking and climbing with many pristine areas. Avoid the busy Mount Everest and Anapurna treks.

Link: http://www.sponsortrek.nl/se_index.htm

Positive response

Reactions were overwhelming, a lot of encouraging responses. Also because this is Boston, on peoples mind due to the unfortunate 2013 event.

Running a marathon when you are in your late fifties seems special, especially for one you need to qualify. I did the 2012 Amsterdam marathon in 3:26 h, with a generous 12 minutes spare so I should be able to complete the Boston Marathon.

True enough, the percentage of runners past 50 drops and even more at 55 and again at 60. Past 65 or 70 you are almost on your own. This year there was one lady and eight men over 80 finishing.

Boston marathon, 2013 unfortunate event

It will also be one year ago since the unfortunate event of 2013 so this year will be very special, receiving a lot of attention.

E.g., see the promotion video, in memorial of the victims of 2013 bombing:

The bombs went off at 2:50 PM, and only some 40% of runners finished by that time, those with qualifying times within 4 hours. Some 20000 runners were stopped short of the finish, creating chaos. Not to speak of the impact on the five hundred thousand spectators.

See a report in the New York Times of the event and also the Aftermath Reports in the New York Times.

In 2014, my travelling companion watching the race outside the Mandarin Hotel would have been 200 m away from the first explosion but only only 50 m away from the second explosion, at the corner of the Mandarin Hotel.

With a 2014 finish time of 2:07 PM, I would have been in the bathroom of the my room at the Mandarin Hotel having a post-marathon clean-up.

The Mandarin Hotel was evacuated which lasted several hours. The planned big carb recovery lunch would have been eaten in shock somewhere else.

Luckily, I failed to participate in 2013 (I did try) as I did not run a qualification within 1.5 years on the sign-up date in mid September 2012.

Site of the explosions at the Boston Marathon, the first one was at 2:50 PM, the second one 10 seconds later.

2013 memorial, 4 people died.

Qualifying limits

Qualifying times for 2013-2015. Young women (limit 3:35 h, total 7112) have a big advantage over young men (3:05 h, total 5996). 42% of participants is below 35. For 2014, deduct 1:38 min.

You need to run a previous marathon within 1.5 years but the limits depend on your age group: 3:28 hours for age 50-54, but 3:23 h for age 45-49, 3:13 h for age 40-44, 3:08 for age 35-39, and a very harsh 3:03 for age 18-34.

Times quoted above have two minutes deduction below the official times as the qualifying times will be reduced when there are too many runners, in 2014 by 1:38 min.
Women get a half hour extra, rightfully so, and Boston has the highest number of women in the race, some 47%.
In 2013, the biggest group of participants are young girls in the range of 18-34 years and with a limit of 3:33 h, close to my qualifying time of 3:26 h run during the Amsterdam Marathon of 2012, see blog.

Many runners qualify after a trial run on a flat and cool marathon course. In Boston they will be 10-15 minutes slower due to the many hills and potentially fierce spring sun.

Most runners are only 1 or 2 minutes within their qualifying time, so even more just failed.

Some 10-15% of the Chicago Marathon runners qualify. Of the Amsterdam Marathon, 11-13% of runners would qualify.

If you have a qualifying time for Boston, “you run”.

For men, best to try when you are 60-64, an easy 3:53 h, or 65-69, an even more easy 4:08 h! Just “keep on running .... “ .... for another 20 to 30 years.

Boston finishers in 2013. Note the high number of runners below 40.

Qualified runners and percentages of different age groups based on the New York Marathon in 2013. Age group listed is the minimum age. Average for men is 6.8% and for women 7.6%.

Qualified runners and percentages of different age groups based on the Amsterdam Marathon in 2012. Age group listed is the minimum age. Average for men is 13.2% and for women 11.4%.

Cache misère

I ran the 2012 Amsterdam Marathon in 3:26:42 h, a generous 12 minutes within the harsh limit for age group 55-59.

Runners starting time are grouped by the qualifying time.

At the start I was surrounded by young girls with a limit of 3:33 h, some wearing the now more and more fashionable mini tennis skirts.

Tennis skirts!?!?! Size S and XS, young with very well trained and toned running legs, why wear a “cache misère” ?

And were are the old men (4307) and women (2307) of 50-59, my age group? Saw very few!

Running style

Many female runners and some of the men in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam could opt for a “cache misère”, not to speak of their (slow) running style, dominated by flat feet. You cannot cover flat feet running but you could al least try to improve. Look for a threadmill with a mirror in a fitness club and watch your running style. You don't need to be an expert to judge this.

A list of poor running styles:
* Flat feet (slow men and women, any size and shape)
* Elephant run (slow and overweight men)
* American moose of African buffalo ( moderate speed and overweight men)
* Twist (young girls)

* Hopping (young fit girls and boys)

* Duck: feet spread (very common, related to flat feet)

* Swan: bending backward (stiff men)

A qualifying bet for 2015

Last fall I promised a 65-69 age group running friend a free air miles plane ticket to Boston if he would make the qualification for 2015, two minutes below 4:10 h. Air Miles tickets are around 20% of the regular price.

He asked my running friends several times, “is he serious?”. “Yes, he is”, they answered.

He failed Amsterdam in October 2013 with 4:15 h but happily claimed his ticket after the Rotterdam marathon in April 2014 with 3:56 h, thinking he was within the 4 hour limit, which I told him but I gave him the wrong limit.

In 2012 the qualifying time for his age group was indeed 4:00 h, minus 2 minutes. However, for 2013 and 2014 this was increased to 4:10 h. The limit for 2015 is again 4:10 h.

He is in !!!!!

I need to book a KLM Air Miles ticket soon, possible 10 months ahead of time, only 50000-60000 points. Still have 90000.

Boston accommodation

Organisation wise, it worked out fine after a long struggle.

Two tickets on air miles, business class on the way back to be able to stretch tired legs.

However, to get a hotel or apartment, %^#$€}^%!!!!!!

All reasonably priced hotels were booked up after the acceptance period for the marathon in the middle of September.

Airbnb.com, a popular site for private bed and breakfast accommodation, is hopeless to book half a year ahead of time. Response is slow, listed rates are doubled and so-called available time slots are simply not available.

The Airbnb types try to double their profit during marathon weekend. Not very sporty.

I got nervous and so decided to book the Hyatt at the airport on saved Hyatt points for 4 nights. Far away from the city but a good hotel and free of charge. There is a taxi boat going downtown every 10 minutes or on call, a good choice.

Marathon finish strip, a nice hotel

From the 2013 event I knew that the Lennox and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel were best located on the marathon strip, at the last 500 m, and next door to the marathon registration and fair at the Hynes Convention Centre.

The Lennox was quickly fully booked but the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a very stylish Asian hotel, see the adds with “Celebrity Fans” with e.g. Helen Mirren and Cecillia Bartoli, still had space, given the steep rates. It is a real 5 star hotel.

Helen Mirren in “She's a fan”.

50% off the hotel rate of the Mandarin

Looking at the bookings of the Mandarin, they were mostly for the two marathon days, before and after.

That's how I got the picture, two free nights at the Hyatt and two paid at the Mandarin is effectively a 50% discount. This seems to be typical women's shopping logic.

Of course this is not true given the steep rate, but having a marathon party in a very nice hotel is worth it, especially when this is the very special Boston marathon for which you must qualify and may only run once in a lifetime.

Also, they have rooms that sleep up to two couples or a room for a couple plus one person using a roll-away bed. This reduces the price by sharing.

Sightseeing in Boston

There is not so much to see. Trying to be a European tourist in an American city is often disappointing. Cities are designed for work, not for pleasure.

We limited the shopping to the next door Prudential Centre shopping mall. Sax Fifth Avenue, the favorite of the Sex and the City "girls", is a must for "kijken kijken, niet kopen".

Why pay 500 dollars for a simple summer dress? "I love this dress!" "I will buy it for you darling". "How sweet of you!".

Crate and barrel”, a kitchenware shop across the Mandarin Hotel is more interesting.

The Tea Party Museum at the old harbour is very entertaining and very patriotic. Good old American history from 1773, the start of the American Revolution and the birth of a new nation. You even get a chance to sing the American national anthem at the end of the mandatory but entertaining tour.

Harvard square is boring, despite the many tourists. The entire university is closed for outsiders, even the library.

You see a few students through the windows of their dormitories. We missed the natural history museum which seems to be a must see.

The arts museum on Huntington Ave has a large variety of art objects of different ages and cultures and very good lunch opportunities.

The old dock lands are now turned into a side walk cafe area. It is very crowded on Sundays. Most people go for the take-out food stalls inside a 100 m long building, an noisy, narrow corridor with all the food smells of the world.

Reconnaissance of the route

The best plan for a reconnaissance is to drive to Hopkinton along the marathon route on Friday or Saturday before the monday race.

It takes you through the villages along a two-lane road and this way you appreciate the many hills you need to scale, esp. past 20 km. Study Heart Break Hill at 32 km carefully, it has an 0.8 km long incline and goes up 40 m.

Cycling is not recommended, would kill your running shape, too many up and downs.

Coaches advise

It is all about "keeping it all in one piece" ( in Dutch, “hou het heel!” ), which I promised my mental coach and running mate. There should be running life well into your 60's or even 70's.

So you run at 70% the first 21 km, the half marathon, and at 80% from 21 to 30 km. Past 30 km, it will be 80-90%, depending on the weather and course conditions. Past 30 km, your muscles will always age, being very,very sour. Never run 100%, i.e. with heavy breathing, especially not the last 2 km.

For the past 10 years a professional coach from the Dutch Olympic Committee gave me useful advise on training for and running a marathon.

The most important one, you can only run 12 to 15 marathons in a life time. If you run more, your body will be totally worn out.

You will notice it with ever slower finishing times, e.g. see the book by well-known Janapese writer Murakami on his personal experience. He ran around 25 marathons but did not comprehend why he was so slow past 50.

Finishing is less important. This, in contrary to the marathon spirit, "it is all about finishing". The first marathon runner in Greece in 490 BC, from Marathon to Athens, died in the act.

I won't.

Escape routes

At 27 km there is a Boston subway station and from 35 km to 42 km a subway runs parallel to the course. If my muscles cramp up or if I get aweful blisters I will quit.

Up to 20 km there are also commuter train stations. All the train and subway stations are marked on the runners map, see above.

Every few kms along the course there are first aid posts and busses will shuttle injured runners to the finish.

27 km is normally no problem, should be able to reach this. After 27km, we will see.

Drop-out rate in 2013 was only 3%.

Training advise, it is all about frequency, not distance

Most marathon training schedules let you run 40-60 km a week for half a year with runs of 15, 20, 25 and even some of 30-35 km. Many runners get injured during this training.

Another plan is to do regular runs for 10 years, twice or three times a week, and when you plan a marathon increase the frequency to 5 times a week 2-3 months before the marathon but keep the distance short, to 1, 3, 5 and 7 km.

I normally do two or three runs a week but increase the frequency before the marathon. I did around 7 km long runs almost daily for two weeks before the marathon but stopped the week before, doing only two 3 km runs on the Saturday and Sunday before the marathon.

It is all about frequency in marathon training, not distance. Distance will kill you(r legs).

You run 5 times 6 km a week? Try a marathon!

Marathon day, transporting 34000 people to the start at Hopkinton

Most runners catch the school bus at the Boston Common Park to Hopkinton, a 1 hour drive.

My bus left at 7 AM so I got a take-out breakfast from the Mandarin Hotel. The best part, a pound of oatmeal porridge, a special request.

Nothing beats oatmeal porridge, cooked in water and salt, when you need to run, very basic but superfood.

A double row of schoolbusses were lined up along a the park and there must be some 100 busses at the time carrying around 5000 people in one go.

The trip went smoothly, we had no delays.

Bus loading area for Hopkinton in the Boston Common Park (right) and the finish area (left).

Start area, Hopkinton

In Hopkinton we were dropped behind the high school, in Athletes' Village, an outside area with big open tents. You get an aluminum blanket, power bars and even lip balm and sun screen. Coffee, yoghurt and gels are all free of charge.

It was cold at 8:00 AM in the morning but the rising sun quickly heated us up, a bit too quickly as we would find out later.

Hopkinton, start of the the Boston marathon

The big thing is the line up for the toilets and no toilet paper. Past 9:30 each toilet line grows to over a 100 m when the number of runners start to reach the total of 34000. Bring your own roll.

Runners are nervous and they often have to go for seconds. My second line-up at 9:00 AM took 30 minutes.

They are also very talkative, all about who missed the qualifications, like "My best friend missed the qualification by 8 seconds! The 98 seconds taken of the official qualification times in 2014 are brutal !!!"

No worry, just before the corrals at the start, a km walk from the main gathering area, there are a few hundred toilets, with no line-ups, ..... with toilet paper, at least when I was there at 10:00 AM.

Still amazing how many guys need to take a whiz in the forest a few km after the start. There are indeed, big inviting pine trees just outside Hopkinton.

In Athletes' Village I met an American colleague from Houston, a fast runner, within 3 hours, who warned me for the hills on the second 21 km. “This is not your flat Amsterdam or Berlin run you are used to”, he said. I was warned.

The race, first 21 km

The first 10 km were very easy, mostly down hill, and I reached a surprising speed above 12 km/h. Above target.

The “wave” of runners moved very harmonious at about the same speed, “go with the flow” is the motto.

They are all experienced runners, unlike you normally observe in the parks on a sunday morning.

Start time based on qualification time worked well. No tripping on the heels or slow runners blocking other runners by running in groups. Most runners were on their own.

The next 10 km went less smoothly, the uphill parts started to get noticed.

I let the young girls go, about half were running slightly faster, hoping for another qualification time below 3:33 h for the 2015 Boston Marathon. My target was about 3:35 h, well within the qualifying time of 3:53 h.

Will meet you again at Heart Break Hill at 32 km!!!” (see photos of runners at Heartbreak Hill).

Drinking sips of water at every water posts spaced at 3-5 km, mainly for rinsing my dry mouth caused by the dry air, seemed to work.

First 5 km, hands up, still very happy.

Thumbs up.

It got warmer, around 18 Celsius, the sun was bright, and the air very dry, typical New England spring weather. There was very little shade, despite running on the South side of the road. The occasional trees were very welcome.

Just before half way point the road was lined up with the girls of Wellesley College, a deafening noise of around 1000 screaming girls with signs like "kiss me, I am so and so".

I got bad news for them, all the young guys were already 45 minutes ahead of us.

Now the so-called uncles were passing. Do you really want a kiss?

One thumb up.

A rolling pace

During the first 21 km is is very importanty to run efficiently and smoothly, this is a highly technical part, and you should use your experience build up during some 20 years of running.

The favorite "rolling pace" dominated around me, keeping the upper body steady at one level combined with a very light footing. Also, you need to watch every uneven spot, especially sewage lids. White lines are also risky, especially when wet, as they are slippery. Ask novice motor cycle riders, they often slide on the white lines.

Any signal from the tendons or muscles should be corrected by shifting the load, e.g. shortening the pace, less hopping, a lower speed or a walk or full stop to relace the running shoes. You could also simply walk while drinking water.

Half way point, 70% effort and according to plan

I reached the 21.1 km in a very good time, 1:45 h. So far so good.

I would need this early good start as I would find out later. I was stil thinking of a finishing time of 3:35 h, below 3:30 h was already out of the question.

Foot soles were okay, perhaps a bit warm, possibly a blister developing on the right side of the left foot sole, nothing special, happens.

Muscle and tendons were 100%, no signals.

21-30 km, 80% effort, body fatique

This is the most critical part of the run. You need to cover this stretch in a gentle way as the infamous "wall" was approaching at the 30 km point. Body fatique!

Uphill was not easy anymore, and I saved energy to walk some of them. It was warm, already 18 Celsius, but felt like 25 Celsius. At 25 km the “so-called” heat was affecting me.

First gel at 27 km

At 27 km I first walked at a water spot to recover and had my first gel with a full cup of water. This felt good, re-energized.

Running was heavy now, every Pacman beep of the Garmin GPS at 1 km intervals was very welcome.

It got even warmer, 21 Celsius.

32 km, Heart Break Hill, 110% effort

I passed the 32 km point without noticing the "wall", still doing well but soon this would change, at Heart Break Hill, a long 40 m elevation ascent past 32 km. Many runners were walking, see photos. The 800 m incline seemed endless, I could not see the top of the hill, so I started running again and was to stopped again by a combination of overheating and exhaustion.

The heat was now very uncomfortable, to put it mildly, but the walking created relief. A minute delay due to walking could save your race (and your body, “keep it all in once piece”).

See photos at Heartbreak Hill: The Thrill & The Agony At The 2014 Boston Marathon.

Second gel at 33 km, 80% effort

At 33 km, just past Heart Break Hill there was another very welcome waterpost and I took my second gel with lots of water. Must have walked for at least a minute to recover while drinking two full cups of water.

Again I was re-energized, running my usual 11.5 km/h during the final 9 km.

Starting up after walking is hard but works for me as the walking brings down my pulse within a minute.

I got a warning that my Garmin GPS had low batteries.

The heart beat monitor went haywire, in the 190-200 range, seen before, not sure what to trust.

Was my heart beat really 190-200? A pulse test was much lower, more like 165, which aligned with normal breathing. Time to ditch it and get a new one.

Third gel at 37 km, 90% effort

Coolidge Corner, 38 km

Every hill was now a problem, I walked some of them.

Took my third gel. Was again re-energized. Curious, perhaps this is just mental.

37-42 km, survival mode, 90% effort

From 37 to 42 km you are in survival mode, you will make it, if you keep it all in one piece. More and more runners were now walking due to cramps, likely due to a high pace or simply overtraining in the weeks before the race. My speed went down to 11 km/h.

The 37-42 km stretch is the key part of the marathon, the most interesting, but it is simply too far for a normal human and your body will incur damage, possibly permanent.

Cardiac troponin increases were relatively common among 482 tested participants of the 2002 Boston marathon fand can reach levels typically diagnostic for acute myocardial infarction, see Ann Emerg Med. 2007 Feb;49(2):137-43, 143.e1. Epub 2006 Dec 4.

If, in 1896, they had decided on a 20 mile or 32 km marathon, there would be many more marathon events. Now it is special, only 500 world wide, and “we like it this way”.

All downhill?

At another uphill stretch a lady was yelling that after this point it is all downhill. For her yes, for a tired runner “no”, as for a runner past 37 km every slight incline is noticeable uphill. Breathing is normally fine but the muscles are simply very, very sour.

How many times I looked on my watch on this last stretch of 5 km, I don't remember. Many, many times. The Pacman beeps were always very, very late.

Another walk and GPS check, hoping for a Pacman beep covering another km.

1 k to go”, 100% effort

Just before the end, 1 k to go, at the upward incline, pictures were taken, an excellent spot to capture photos of tired runners, on the brink of collapse.

This time I did not walk, I could see the tower of the Prudential Centre so we were near. So I speeded up to ensure I would remain around 3:45 h, another qualification time, for 2015, and my maximum target for the charity run.

A female runner collapsed close to the finish and was lying on the ground on the middle of the road. It could be the heat.

Some runners arrived with a ashgrey skin colour, indicating a near shock of the body with the blood guided to essential organs, instead of a red blush typical of physical exercize. Not good!

1 K to go, uphill part of a tunnel. Perfect for a tired trunner shot. Some are walking (left), some are running (right).

A rose at the finish

Our hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, was a few hundred meters from the finish and I was handed a rose with a red ribbon by my “supporting artist” as arranged, to acknowledge the unfortunate 2013 event..

The rose broke and dropped. I picked it up again and happily finished the race, waving to the crowd with the rose.

Carrying a rose just before the finish.

Finish, with a well deserved rose with a red ribbon attached, a symbol for a pieceful event.

I almost forgot to pick up the Boston Marathon Medal, I am not a medal collector, only thinking of going straight back to my hotel, the nearby Mandarin Hotel.

A volunteer had to tell me to get it. "Don't you want your medal"?
Guess so, "it is all about finishing", this is the leitmotiv at a marathon.

She put the medal around my neck and I used the secured and heavily policed VIP area to leave the finish area, the shortest route to the hotel, skipping the aluminum blankets and drinks.

So I was a VIP as well as I was a participant?

As a runner, you do get “the benefit of the (suspicious) doubt”.

Finish time and a qualification for 2015

Results: 3:42:12 h. Overal place 13082 out of 31,931, overall male place 9036 out of 17828. In my age group, 55-59, 620 out of 1805. Average GPS speed 11.48 km/h.

Official finish time was 3:42:12 h. I had some 5-7 minutes overhead over the last 20 km, walking uphill and drinking water.

Finish time is not important in Boston, way more important is another qualification time for next year, I was below 3:53 for 2015, another generous 11:30 min spare.

Lucky me, I moved into the next age category, otherwise I would be 4 minutes short.

Go gently “with the (your age) flow”.

Personal results on the app.


After the race

The best part was walking back to the hotel in only 5 minutes,

On entering the hotel, seeing my marathon medal, I got congratulations from all the passing hotel staff.

In the room I incising four blisters, two very big ones.

After drinking a liter of water, I washed down the salt layer in the granite bathroom.

No toe tail nail blisters this time. The very thin, synthetic Falke socks worked fine, much better than the thicker X-socks.

However, two blue toe-nail blisters would develop a few days later, just a discolouring, no swelling.

Soar legs?

Surprisingly, legs were okay despite the effort.

But, you need to move around, don't sit still for more than a few minutes.

The soaring of the upper leg and lower calf muscles always increases the next day and even more the second day after. The third day it gets better.

The first run of 10 km is normally possible 5-6 days later. This is a good test, if you held back, running at 70%.

When you run at 100% effort, you are likely to “kill your(body)self” and you will be unable to run for weeks.

I ran a 9 km in the Amsterdamse Bos 6 days later, legs were fine, lower calfs were a bit sensitive.

Going down the stairs

Going down the stairs is a real torture the first three days due to the very sour upper legs.

You cannot walk upright, but instead, have to hang sideways holding on to the handrail, a crazy walk.

This is how you recognize a post-marathon runner.

Watching runners coming in

At 4:30 PM we were watching the yellow wave with BIB numbers of 30000-36000 coming in. They started at 11:30 AM.

We also saw a few from the blue wave, start time 11 AM, looking not so good, and an occasional white or red wave runner, looking very bad. My white wave start time was around 10:30 AM, the red wave was 10 AM. Many runners had leg cramps or a very sour back or both. Not looking good.

Why walk if you could take the train or the subway?

Puzzles me but I am not a devoted marathon runner, just happen to be able to do it. Good lungs are crucial for mountain walking, I walk relatively easy at 5000-6000 m altitude.

Until the official deadline of 6:10 PM for a medal, runners were still coming in, "it is all about finishing" and getting your precious medal, even when it took 7-8 hours due to body failure, usually cramps.

Until 8:30 PM, while staying in our hotel room with a view at the marathon strip, we could heard occasional clapping of spectators for the last few runners coming in. No medal unfortunately, but you did finish.

The race director of the Boston marathon, Dave McGillivray, is the last one finishing the marathon, at 11 PM, his 42nd time.

Freaks or heroes?

Eight men and one woman over 80 did the run. We saw Katherine coming in, wearing an “over 80” sign. Only Harold got a 2015 qualification. I am sure the qualification rules are not that strict for 70+ runners. All runners above 70 had signs on their back. Handy for “First Aid” treatment.

80+ results. Only Harold made the men's 2015 qualification of 4:55 h.

Katherine, the woman over 80. First and the only one finishing in her age group (5:40 h) but she failed the 2015 qualification of 5:25 h.

Weight loss and food

How many kilograms did I loose? None, I gained even, a day later. However, weight is unreliable.

Weight before the race was 66 kg. Daily runs of 5 to 8 km the three weeks before the the marathon, reduced the weight due to high physical activity. Just after the race I was still 66 kg. I probably lost two liters of sweat but resupplied it the same day.

I had a pound of oatmeal porridge in the morning, with compliments of the Mandarin Hotel, 2 bananas, a liter of water during the run, 120 grams in gels, and another liter of water after the run. A day later I was already 67.5 kg, the empty bowels now fully filled up by food sitting there by inactivity. A week later I was back to my normal 67 kg but the hungry feeling lasted for three weeks causing overeating, a primitive response.

Although the GPS recorded 3126 Kcal burned, my own estimate is less then 2500 Kcal, the daily intake of an adult male.

One good lunch and dinner in the Mandarin made up for the lost calories.

One of the waiters insisted on feeding me a coconut drink, for a high intake of potassium, to relieve tired muscles apparently.

Epiloque, Mandarin (Hotel) Marathon Party

Flowers in the lobby of the Manadarin Hotel, located a few 100 m before the finish.

An excellent hotel, very good food, try it as well, book it for two nights around marathon day, get a room with two double beds and a balcony to give a marathon party of four, split the costs between runners and supporting artists, and you get a good deal.
The Boston Marathon and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, an excellent combination.

As you are one of the qualified runners, .....

You will have earned it!

( contrary to the L'Oreal women's cosmetics add in 2002: “We are worth it”. Are you? )

( or the believe of Generation Y: “I am special”. No, you are ordinary. )

Next Madarin Marathon Party, New York?

The Mandarin Oriental New York is on Central Park, 5 minutes way from the finish of the the New York Marathon.

So, if anyone is interested, and there is already one, my travelling companion, I will organize another Mandarin Marathon party in 2015 and join the “walk in the city”, having cappuccino on a terrace half-way and at three-quarters.

Stats: Speed per km

GPS average speed 11.5 km/h, distance 42.51 km. Heartbeat average 162.

Marathon course is normally 42.190 km plus 200 m. Measering the ideal running line differs per person so a course is always around 200 m longer to avoid being short for a record.

Running distance for each participant is normally around 45.5 km

My average GPS speed 11:48 km/hour.

First half: 1:45 h.

Second half: 1:57 h.

Gross speed for each km and total times every 5 km.

1: 12.1
2: 12.1
3: 12.4
4: 12.1
5: 12.9 Down hill. Time 5 km: 00:24:24 h
6: 12.4
7: 12.1
8: 12.2
9: 12.1
10: 12.1 Time 10 km: 00:48:39 h
11: 12.4
12: 12.5
13: 12.0
14: 12.1
15: 12.2 Time 15 km: 1:13:26 h
16: 11.8
17: 11.8
18: 11.7
19: 11:9
20: 11.5 Time 20 km: 1:39:26
21.2 Half marathon time: 1:45
21: 12.0
22: 11.8
23: 11.7
24: 11.8
25: 11.7 Time 25 km: 2:04:33
26: 11.9
27: 10.9. Gel and water
28: 10.7 Very hot, hills
29: 10.6
30: 11:0 Time 30 km: 2:31:51
31: 11.1
32: 10.1 Gel and water
33: 10.3 Heart Break Hill
34: 10.2
35: 11.4 Downhill. Time: 35 km 3:00:09 h
36: 11.3
37: 11.2
38: 9.7 Gel and water, hill
39: 11.5
40: 10.9 Tired. Time 40 km: 3:27:41 h
41: 10.0 Another hill
42: 10.6 Roses at the Madarin Hotel for the finish.
42.51: 3:42:13 GPS time, distance an extra 320 m.

Heart rate

Note that due to low batteries the heart rate monitor is unreliable after 2:30 h. Peaks above 165 are faulty measurements.

Stats of the event

See stats for different age groups:



Boston Marathon WWW Links

Runners World reports:


Mile-By-Mile Guide To The Boston Marathon:


Mile 20 to Mile 21

As you cross the 20-mile mark, you can see the base of Heartbreak Hill where the road winds ahead. Get ready. You’ll run past some little shops and then, there’s no mistaking it. Heartbreak is a steep half-mile uphill. It will likely not be the longest or the steepest hill you’ll ever run but, again, at this point, you’re probably not running on fresh legs.

What I try to do here is to not let myself get out of breath, usually by shortening my strides. I also never look at the top, just at the road immediately ahead.”

I love Heartbreak (see photos). The crowds are great, and on a long, meandering course, it represents a short (relatively) and attainable goal. There’s a huge sense of accomplishment as you reach the top, some much needed psychological firepower.

So here’s the thing. You’ll crest Heartbreak, and see another hill. I call this the “you must be kidding me hill.”

Don’t worry about it. It’s minor.”

Bandit runners

Every year there are a number of bandit runners. As you need to qualify to get in or do a charity, this may be a way to tell your friends you ran Boston and show them the medal.

However, photographs are taken of every runner and the BIB number can be used to track them easily.

So far, five were reported, the others not.

I understand runners get upset about them as it is hard to qualify but given the limited numbers, perhaps 20-50 (?), why worry. They will get caught in the end for unsporty behaviour.

A Boston marathon runner would listen and answer: “So you ran Boston but did not qualify, oh, your time is very slow”, “je compris”.

1. Four bandit runners, two young men, two girls, see:



Hunt Is On for Alleged Boston Marathon Bandits

2. A bandit running couple:

The founder of Foursquare issued a public apology today on behalf of his wife, who illicitly ran the Boston Marathon using another runner's official number.


Must read book

Murakami. What I talk about when I talk about running. 2009. A memoir. (Non-fiction). Vintage Books.

Personal WWW Links

Other pictures

Top finishers

More photos

Good luck, signing up in person at the Hynes Convention Centre.

Concentrated, the day before, lunch in the Mandarin Hotel.

The start of the men at 10:00 AM. Women started 30 minutes earlier and the winner will come in before the male winner.

Speech at the start.

Women, first runners.


Arriving at the Mandarin Hotel after running 3:40 h to pick up the rose from the “supporting artist”.

Dropping the rose.

Paraplegic son with father running. They run every year.

An unfortunate, good runner of the red wave. Came in after 7 hours, walked for a long time to get his medal. Whiplash covered with a bandage by First Aid?

Bare feet man, 200 m before the finish, jumping around and showing his bare feet accomplishment.

Bare feet man, doing the Tarzan.

Harbour view at Boston downtown from the Hyatt Harbour at the airport.

Boston Tea Party Museum, a must see.