Boston Marathon Review and Race Report

My Boston Marathon Review. After a long-awaited opportunity to finally run the 2023 Boston Marathon following the disappointment of a canceled 2020 race due to the pandemic, I was thrilled to experience the iconic course, the electrifying crowds, and the challenges of the Newton Hills.

In this race review and report, I’ll share my goals, the exciting weekend, hotel and transportation tips, the athlete’s village experience, and an in-depth analysis of the course and crowds. Plus, plenty of pictures for those who love visuals!

So, if you’re curious about my journey and insights from running the prestigious Boston Marathon review, read on!

After a failed attempt to run the 2020 Boston Marathon (damn pandemic), I was finally able to run the 2023 Boston Marathon, and let me start by saying it didn’t disappoint.

I’m going to break this post like this:

  • My Goals
  • The Weekend
  • Hotel and Transportation
  • Athlete’s Village
  • The Course and Crowds
  • Race Results and Analysis

If you like pictures, keep scrolling 😁

My Goals

No matter the distance, I always have two goals going into a race, an A and a B goal.

  1. My ‘A’ goal is usually a little out of my reach—something where everything needs to go perfectly for me to achieve it. For the Boston Marathon was to run it in under 2:50. For reference, my marathon PR is 2:54.
  2. My ‘B’ goal is something meaningful but not necessarily the fastest time, something that will be difficult, and I will need to push to get it, but not a PR or an all-out effort, for this marathon was to run in under 3 hours.

Of the five marathons I’ve raced, on top of the 11 consecutive marathons I did for charity, I’ve finished two under 3 hours and three over. So running under 3—especially with the challenging hills at Boston— wasn’t going to be a stroll in the park.

The Weekend

I don’t enjoy big crowds, so we arrived and picked up the race package on Friday. The process was smooth, and I got my BIB number and strolled through the expo in less than 30 minutes.

To be honest, I expected way more from the expo. It was really small, and nothing much to do. I’ve been to expos with activities for the kids, games, and a festivities atmosphere. This one felt more like a thing they need to do other than something they want to do and develop into an experience.

But, I got free Sam Adams beer, which is always good. And I got my celebration jacket.

On Saturday afternoon, we went to a Red Sox game. My kids had never been to a baseball game, and the experience was incredible. We had a blast; it was a great way not to walk and rest my feet while having fun.

For dinner, we ordered some pizza and relaxed with my family and friends.

Hotel and Transportation

Wow, hotels during marathon weekend are expensive, like twice the price as a regular night for that time of the year.

We are lucky to have some friends in Boston, so we crashed with them on Friday and Saturday nights and moved to a hotel on Sunday to be closer to the finish line.

This way, I only had to walk 1 mile to the buses that take you to the start line, and my family was really close to the finish line. When traveling with kids, you want to make the experience as smooth and easy for them as possible.

We chose the AC Hotel in downtown Boston, and that is where we will stay the next time I run the race. The plan is to do the marathon again next year.

Here is a tip for you. Stay away from Airbnb. It seems that it is very common for hosts to cancel the stays the week before and re-book them way pricier to the highest bidder.

The race starts at a town around 26 miles from downtown Boston, so you need to take a bus to take you there.

I arrived at 7:00 am and was in Hopkinton at 8:15 am. In my experience, the process is very smooth and is nothing you need to be worried about.

You can read here about what super shoes I chose to wear.

Athlete’s Village

Before the start corrals, there is this thing called the Athlete’s Village, which is three ginormous tents to chill and relax for about an hour before you are called to the start line.

They have water, bananas, coffee (I think), and hundreds of port-a-potties. Be aware that you can wait up to 10 minutes in line, so consider that time.

A “pro tip” I got from my experienced Boston Marathon friends (they’ve run more than 60 Bostons between them) is to bring throw-away clothes to keep you warm and cozy for that hour of waiting. Definitely something I recommend.

During that time, I had breakfast—my regular oatmeal and waffles with Nuttela— and chatted with my friends.

Forty-five minutes before your starting time, they will call your wave, and there is a 0.8-mile walk to the start line. I used this time to do some mobility exercises and running drills to warm up.

The Course and Crowds

The Boston Marathon course is one of the most analyzed courses in the world. There are tons of articles and information describing it.

And as a good engineer, I took advantage of these resources, analyzed them, and memorized all the hills, downhills, and pacing strategies of dozens of athletes to be ready for race day.

Because of this, the course didn’t surprise me at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a demanding course, and the infamous Newton Hills challenged and slowed me down, but I was prepared for it. If you want my spreadsheet analysis, don’t hesitate to email me; I’m happy to share.

The security, the closed course, the water stations, and the crowds are amazing. It’s the best-organized race I’ve ever run, and considering that more than 30,000 runners take part in it, what they achieve is short of a miracle.

I want to thank the more than 9,000 volunteers that make this happen. You make a truly remarkable experience for us.

And the crowds, wow. It’s the fastest 3 hours of my life. You are never bored with so many people cheering, thousands of clever signs, and people giving away beer, lobster rolls, icicles, and more. It’s truly a magical experience.

Mentally, this has been my easiest race ever.

Race Results and Analysis

Now, for the part, everyone is waiting for, my official time was…

2:59:50. Just 10 seconds below the 3-hour mark. And I’m super happy about ut.

Going into the race, I had a little hamstring injury, and running anything faster than 4:10/km (6:42/mile) was really painful. So my ‘A’ goal went out the door pretty fast, and I focused on achieving my ‘B’ goal.

This allowed me to relax and go with the flow. All the runners around you are as fast as you, so there is no point in trying to wiggle through the crowds to go faster.

In the graphic below, you can see where my pace started to slow, right where the infamous Newton Hills started. But because I already knew that, that didn’t surprise me. I let the hills slow me down and make time on the downhills.

It’s the first marathon I didn’t stress out about because I’m slowing down after mile 20 (32 kilometers). I was prepared for it. Analyzing the training of 52 Boston Marathon finishers helped a lot.

Boston Marathon Review Conclusion

The Boston Marathon really lives up to its expectation and hype. 

If you are planning on trying to qualify, go for it. You won’t regret it.

Diego Alcubierre, a passionate runner and coach, started his journey at 26 with a 10k time of 1:06:23 and has since slashed 30 minutes off his personal record. With five running and coaching certifications, Diego is committed to sharing his expertise and proven strategies to help runners of all levels enhance their performance, stay motivated, and enjoy the journey of running. At Bannister, he simplifies complex training concepts, empowering you to achieve your running goals.