The inaugural Boston Marathon (UK) took place on Sunday 17th April. No qualifying times or airfares were needed, just the ability to get yourself up the A16 to Boston College.
With zero fanfare or countdown and just a single klaxon call, the race started promptly at 9.00. The course quickly leaves the market square with the Cathedral backdrop and is out onto single lanes and open fields within a mile or two.
The race comprises both half and full marathon distances that share part of the same course, although separate start areas meant that the two sets of runners didn’t seem to overlap that much. The route essentially loops north for the first half along quiet lanes that are very occasionally muddy (but more ‘Mud on Road’ than full-on trail) before a small stretch at mile 12 where the course doubles back on itself.
At this point in the race; Ely Runner Peter Royle could see the lead vehicle and the two front runners, looking very swift. Peter took the opportunity to count the number of runners coming back in an attempt to gauge his position, but the course splits so that strategy was not possible after he got to just three – leaving him guessing that he was in the top 20, or thereabouts. It was a beautifully clear and sunny day allowing Peter to partly use the changing direction of his shadow to determine his position on the course as much as the mile markers, along with quaint old road signs pointing off to the left and ‘To the Sea’ indicating this was the homeward leg.
Whilst the open fields of The Wash don’t naturally lend themselves to huge crowd support there were plenty of friendly marshals and the water stations appeared every few miles it seemed. Boston (UK) is billing itself as ‘the flattest marathon in the world’ and Peter didn’t recall a single incline or indeed any gradient. The wide open views allowed runners to keep sight of other runners all of the way.
Time-wise, Peter was looking for somewhere around 3.10, but came home in 3.17:47 (and 18th place overall) having had a very comfortable (possibly too comfortable) run.
Boston (UK) is definitely a low-key race though it had chip timing (provided by FULL ON SPORT), was very well–organised and it seems keen on punching above its weight with lofty ambition. Peter received a post-race email from the Race Director canvassing opinion on dates for the running of next year’s race (Easter Monday anyone?) as they are keen for it to coincide with the biggie in Boston, USA. Global hook-ups aside, he would certainly recommend Boston (UK) as a fast and enjoyable local race. There were 145 finishers.
1st – Benjamin Harris 2:40:06
4th – Fiona Davies 2:54:36 (1st lady)
18th – Peter Royle 3:17:47