SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 17, 2014

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

Jay Kumar
On The Run

---- — 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.

In 2003, the weather was another story. Temperatures had been fairly cool in the weeks leading up to the race and were expected to be in the 50s or 60s on Marathon Monday. But it was 60 and humid at the start and by the time we reached the halfway point, it was in the 70s. Eventually, my friend Matt and I both started suffering from dehydration, even though we had been drinking water regularly. The last several miles were start-and-stop as each of us began cramping up. Not fun.

This is true of any marathon, really. When I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2006, it was cool and rainy and led to my best marathon performance to date. The following year I thankfully didn’t go to Chicago, because the temperature shot into the 90s; race organizers had to cancel the event after three hours because of the extreme heat, which led to the death of one runner.

Ultimately, you can’t prepare for the weather, but you should be prepared to adjust to whatever Mother Nature throws at you on race day. As we just saw this week, the pendulum can swing radically from one extreme to another. All you can do is not get too preoccupied with the forecast and focus on running the best race possible.

Starts and stops: The 2014 North Shore Trail Series kicked off last weekend with the Merrimack River 10-Miler. Sponsored by New England Running Company and Salomon, the series features eight more races through November. Next up is Greenbelt’s Pipestave Hill 5K on May 1in West Newbury, followed by the Kupenda 5-Mile Trail Race on June 7 on the Gordon College Men’s Cross Country course in Chebacco Woods. Visit www.nerunningco.com/racing-series/trail-series/ for more information on the series and to register online.

The Run for HAWC 5-mile race is scheduled for Sunday, May 4 at 9 a.m. in Salem Common. Cost is $30 pre-registration and $35 on race day. Proceeds go directly HAWC to support the survivors of domestic violence who reside on the North Shore. Visit https://racewire.com/register.php?id=3818 to register.

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On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to jay.kumar@gmail.com.

 

Upcoming races

Saturday, April 19

Chase the Gorilla Down Argilla 5K/1-mile race, Ipswich Family YMCA, 110 County Road, Ipswich, 9 a.m. Contact Terry Gauthier at 978-356-9622, ext. 110 or gauthiert@northshoreymca.org.

Wednesday, April 23

Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William’s Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

Thursday, April 24

No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact info@wickedrunningclub.com.

Sunday, April 27

Twin Lights Half Marathon, Good Harbor Beach, Thatcher Road, Gloucester, 8 a.m. 13.1-mile out and back course. Contact Stephanie Murray at 617-512-0714 or steph@pursuitventuresinc.com.

North Shore Fitness 5K, O’Keefe Center, Salem State University, Salem, 9 a.m. Contact Joe Dunn at 978-542-6537 or jdunn@salemstate.edu.

Energize the Earth 5K/10K, Lynch Park, Ober Street, Beverly, 10 a.m. Contact Ashley Steeves at 978-836-0271 or bnsfitnessevents@yahoo.com.

Ring Around the Neck 5-Mile Road Race, downtown Marblehead, 2 p.m. Also includes children’s fun run at 1 p.m. at Seaside Park. Contact Jaime Bloch at 781-631-9622 or blochj@northshoreymca.org.

Wednesday, April 30

Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William’s Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

Thursday, May 1

No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact info@wickedrunningclub.com.

Visit www.northshoreroadraceguide.com/race-calendar for more race listings.