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April 17, 2014

On The Run: Expect the unexpected when it comes to Marathon Monday weather

Runners spend months training for the Boston Marathon: Putting in serious mileage, dealing with injuries, working on pace and endurance, watching food intake. But for all of those factors we can control, there are still some things left to chance.

Especially with the Boston Marathon, the biggest wild card is the weather.

Anybody who lives in New England doesn’t need an explanation about the unpredictability of the weather in this region. On Monday, temperatures approached 80; two days later, we woke up to sub-freezing temps and ice on our windshields. Everybody whined about it on social media, but really, crazy temperature swings are the norm around here.

Spring is an unpredictable time, which causes plenty of consternation for runners preparing for the Marathon. You just don’t know what to expect.

As of this writing, the forecast is for temperatures around 60 degrees and partly cloudy skies. Ideally, you’ll get conditions like those of last year: sunny and cool in the 50s. That’s about as comfortable as it’s going to get on race day. Of course, everybody’s got their preferences. I like to run in cooler temperatures, but others prefer it warmer.

And Boston has delivered both extremes. In 2012, the marathon reached a high of 89 degrees; more than 900 runners dropped out of the race, 2,500 were treated along the race course or in medical tents, and about 150 runners were treated at local hospitals. The marathon has had snowfall five times, most recently in 1967. In 2007, runners had to spend several hours getting rained on before the race, then had to contend with 25-30 mph winds and temps in the 40s during the marathon.

Two of the three times I ran Boston, the weather was just about perfect. In 2002 it was cloudy and cool at the start, and even though the sun emerged right as I made the turn onto the hills at mile 17, it wasn’t a problem. And in 2009, it was cloudy and cool throughout and not a factor.

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