The 2012 Boston Marathon

If you’ve ever been to Boston on Marathon Monday, you know that the Boston Marathon is much more than just a race. Every April, hundreds of thousands of spectators flock to the city and its surrounding towns to watch the world-renowned marathon that takes place on Patriots’ Day (yes, that’s an official holiday in Massachusetts) each year.

The 116th Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 16, 2012—just days away! The 26.2-mile marathon is the oldest annual city race in the world, and ranks as one of the most prestigious athletic events. It is known for its long history, challenging course, and entry eligibility requirements (every runner must have finished a certified marathon within a particular time frame determined by the age of the runner).

The Marathon is a big deal in the city, attracting runners and spectators from across the globe. On the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday leading up to the race, the Boston Athletic Associations hosts several events, most notably the John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo at the Seaport World Trade Center. At the John Hancock Expo, you can pick up official Boston Marathon apparel and purchase tickets to the Pre-Race Dinner at City Hall Plaza or the Post-Race Party at the House of Blues Boston. However, the marathon atmosphere pervades every part of the city, and you certainly don’t need to make any purchases to take part in the fun.

Kenya's Caroline Kilel crosses the finish line

Kenya’s Caroline Kilel crosses the finish line to win the women’s division in the 2011 Marathon.

The best part of Marathon Weekend is of course the race itself. The grueling course starts in Hopkinton and meanders through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, and Brookline, before entering Boston for the final segment. The course reaches its peak at Heartbreak Hill, the final ascent of four Newton hills near Boston College. Half a million people will line the course, waiting for family members or friends to run by or simply cheering on the thousands of talented and exhausted athletes.

Wondering the best place to watch? Well, that depends on whom you ask. If you want to see the runners push through their toughest moments, you might try to find a spot near the Newton Hills in Cleveland Circle. However, the streets will be filled with nearby Boston College students (who have the day off), making this the designated party spot along the race. The most popular spot to watch might be the Kenmore area (by Fenway), and you really can’t beat the atmosphere in this wide-open section just before the home stretch. Hundreds of thousands of excited spectators cheer wildly when runners pass the huge Citgo sign, known as the one-mile-to-go-mark. Of course, spectators will also be flooding Boylston Street, where the race finishes in a flash of chaos and glory.

Heartbreak Hill

Runners push through the exhaustion making their way up the infamous Heartbreak Hill.

Wherever you choose to watch, you’ll likely want to avoid driving a car into the city, as the streets are packed and many of them are closed on race day, making it difficult to get around. However, Boston’s public transportation system, the MBTA, is a convenient mode of transit, and Boston is small enough that it’s easy to walk from one place to another once you’re in the city.

If you’re in Boston for the weekend, you’ll want to check out Boston’s many fascinating attractions while you’re there, such as the Freedom Trail, the Museum of Science, the Paul Revere House, and the USS Constitution Cruise. Use our Go Boston Card for admission to all these attractions and many more at one discounted price—and the chance to skip the lines at many top sites!


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