In Massachusetts, the third Monday in April is Patriots’ Day. No, we don’t take a day off to celebrate our football team; it’s a holiday to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the start of the Revolutionary War. Ask any person who hails from the Bay State, and you’ll find someone who takes real pride in the role Massachusetts played in founding the United States of America.
Yet, on Patriots’ Day, few people have their minds turned back to reliving great battles of the past. In fact, many people don’t even call it Patriots’ Day. It’s Marathon Monday. And it’s when Massachusetts is honored to host the most prestigious marathon in the world: the Boston Marathon.
If you’re planning on seeing the race in person this year, not only will you get to experience the excitement first hand, but you’ll also be playing an important role in helping the runners finish. They count on you to cheer them on. But to get the most out of Marathon Monday, it’s important to plan ahead and be aware of a few details, especially if you’ll be getting around by car.
Parking at the Start and the Finish Line
The starting line and the finish are the two prime viewing areas. Whether you want to experience those pre-race butterflies up close or are in it to see it finish, you’ve chosen the most popular spots to see the race. Be sure to get there early.
Here are two featured locations.
The Start: Hopkinton
There are actually nine official starts to the race, beginning with Mobility Impaired at 8:50 am and ending with Wave 4 of runners at 11:15. All of the official start times are listed on the official marathon site.
Hopkinton is several towns west of Boston. It’s far enough outside of city limits, that it is not even serviced by the T. There are separate procedures for arriving to the start line for registered runners who have bibs. For spectators the best plan is to park at the Hopkinton State Park and take shuttle buses to the start. If runners use this service, they will be dropped off one mile outside of the Athletes’ Village and may be subject to additional security.
By 6 am all of the roads around the Hopkinton town common will be closed. By 7 am all roads that affect the race route will be closed until 1:30 pm. You can find a complete list here. If you need a restroom, there’s a Subway on Grove Street or Best Pizza on Main. A smile and polite request will go a long way. There are going to be a lot of people looking for bathrooms.
The Finish: Downtown Boston
Is there anything more exciting than watching the finish? Yes! Seeing a runner set a record. Even though parking meters won’t be in effect because of the holiday, there will be extensive road closures throughout the entire day through all of downtown Boston, in addition to extensive alterations and closures in the days beforehand for preparations.
Make sure that you follow all parking rules, or you’re likely to have your car towed.
Security is going to be tight all along the course of the race, and you can count on downtown as being especially cautious. Plan on having your belongings or person searched by the police or security guards. People are highly encouraged to carry personal items in clear plastic bags, and bags such as backpacks worn over the shoulder are strictly prohibited.
Here is a list of all prohibited items. Finding a bathroom is going to be a lot easier in and around Boylston Street, despite the throngs of people. There is no shortage of standard restroom sources such as Starbucks and a short walk to Copley place will bring you to a lovely shopping mall with plenty of bathrooms. Additionally, right on the Boston Common, there’s a public restroom at the Visitors’ Center.
Other Popular Places to View the Boston Marathon
Both the start and finish line are exciting, but nowhere is your cheering more needed than on the infamous Heartbreak Hill. Just past the 20-mile mark, this is the hill that has broken many a runner. They’ll need your support!
Wellesley College and Boston College
If you’d like a party atmosphere, no one knows how to put one on better than our college kids. Just be prepared: you may be in for a wild ride.
Wherever you choose to watch the race, enjoy. You’ll be witnessing history.
Boston Marathon Resources
Here are some other resources to plan your weekend at the Boston Marathon.