Spectator Do’s and Dont’s for the 117th Boston Marathon

Spectators look on at the 2009 Boston Marathon. Image courtesy of Stewart Dawson.

Editor’s Note: The following blog post was originally published in April 2010, but the valuable information it contains is timeless. Below are some tried and true tips from a longtime Boston Marathon spectator!

In honor of the 117th Boston Marathon, our Read Local Sports Guru, Christopher Klein, would like to remind you of the following…



…skip the start of the race in Hopkinton. With fleets of school buses transporting runners to the starting line and downtown areas restricted to competitors, it can be a madhouse.

…wear your walking shoes. Parking will be scarce so find a spot on a neighborhood side street and walk to the course.

…avoid Kenmore like the plague. Kenmore Square will be mobbed after the end of the annual Patriots Day morning Red Sox game.

…eat your Wheaties. If you want to see the runners in their finishing kick down Boylston Street, get there early or eat your Wheaties and grow a couple feet taller (unless you’re in the front you won’t see anything except the top of the Prudential Center).

cheer on the runners at Heartbreak Hill. Heartbreak Hill can be a turning point in the race for the leaders and the most punishing part of the course for the masses—they need your support!

Looking down Beacon Street at the 2005 Boston Marathon. Image courtesy of Pingswept.


…get stuck in traffic. Research road closings for the day of the race and plan accordingly. Don’t forget, the MBTA counts too—Copley station will be closed all day.

…ask for autographs mid-race. Take it from Clarence De Mar, who once remarked, “Once at Auburndale, I was confronted by a youth with a pencil and a book looking for my autograph. Spontaneously, I poked him in the face and ran better for it. Running against time and signing autographs are two feats that cannot be done at the same time.”

…let the crowds get you down. There are plenty of marathon related activities to do all year long if massive crowds aren’t your thing. Why not find a viewing spot in the suburban portions of the race or visit some race landmarks on a different day?

Christopher Klein is the author of The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston and Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands: A Guide to the City’s Hidden Shores. He is a regular contributor to the travel pages of The Boston Globe, and his articles and photographs have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, The Boston Globe Magazine, New England Travel, GO Magazine, AAA Horizons, Smithsonian.com, AmericanHeritage.com, and ESPN.com.

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