Boston Marathon 2023: How to watch, what to watch for, and more

Boston Marathon 2023: How to watch, what to watch for, and more

Boston Marathon 2023: How to watch, what to watch for, and more


As someone who grew up in the Boston area, there is something special about the third Monday in April. Known as “Patriots’ Day,” the holiday commemorates the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Menotomy, the clashes that sparked the American Revolutionary War.


In addition to commemorating those battles, the holiday is also an epic day of sports in the Boston area. The Boston Red Sox traditionally play a home game that starts late in the morning, and this year’s features the Red Sox against the Los Angeles Angels. First pitch is slated for 11:10 a.m. ET, and Shohei Ohtani will be on the bump for the Angels. The Red Sox are +135 underdogs against Ohtani and the Angels.


Hopefully there will not be a repay of the infamous “PizzaGate” moment when these two teams faced off on Patriots’ Day years ago:


Here comes the pizza” gets me every single time.


Furthermore, both the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins are in the playoffs. While the Celtics are off Monday, the Bruins host the Florida Panthers at TD Garden Monday night, with the puck drop slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.


Then of course there is the Boston Marathon, which starts shortly after 9:00 a.m. ET, finishing just minutes away from Fenway Park.


This year’s Boston Marathon has a solemn feel to it, as it marks the ten-year anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Three people were killed and hundreds were injured when two pressure-cooker bombs were detonated close to the finish line.


How to watch

ESPN will broadcast the 2023 Boston Marathon from 8:30 a.m. ET until 1:00 p.m. ET. Locally, those in the Boston area can watch coverage on WCVB (Boston’s ABC affiliate) starting at 4:00 a.m. and running until 8:00 p.m. Eastern.


Timeline of the start

The Boston Marathon uses a staggered start, with the following timeline:

9:02 a.m. Men’s wheelchair

9:05 a.m. Women’s wheelchair

9:30 a.m. Handcycle and duos participants

9:37 a.m. Professional men

9:45 a.m. Professional women

9:50 a.m. Para athletics division

10:00 a.m. Wave 1

10:25 a.m. Wave 2

10:50 a.m. Wave 3

11:15 a.m. Wave 4


The course

Boston is known as one of the more difficult marathon courses, due in part to the “Newton Hills” that mark the course starting around the 16-mile mark, in Newton, Massachusetts. There are four of these “Newton Hills,” the last of which has become known as “Heartbreak Hill.”


While Heartbreak Hill is modest in terms of its size — the hill rises only 88 feet vertically — it comes after the 20th mile of the race, at a point in the marathon when runners are really struggling with “hitting the wall.” The hill gained its moniker after the 1936 Boston Marathon, when John A. Kelley overtook Ellison Brown on the hill, patting Brown as he passed him. Brown refused to quit, and caught Kelley en route to a victory, leading to Kelley’s “Heartbreak.”


Here is the course map from the Boston Athletic Association:


The course is also notable for the number of colleges and universities that runners trek past. Around the 13-mile marker runners pass Wellesley College and enter the “Scream Tunnel,” as the students make so much noise cheering on the competitors that their cheering can be heard from a mile away:


Then as runners contend with Heartbreak Hill, they will pass by Boston College. Students from BC help the competitors deal with perhaps the toughest portion of the course.


While the Newton Hills might be the most well-known feature, some runners believe that the downhill portions of the course might present an even tougher challenge. “Everyone tends to focus on the uphills, but I think the biggest challenge in the MetroWest section is actually the two huge downhills that exhaust the runners’ quads,” said Mark Goldschmidt, a member of the Greater Framingham Runners Club, who has run Boston twice. “The first is literally at the start, where the road goes steeply downhill for about a half mile. Then you have a pretty long gradual incline through Ashland that starts at the new public service building. Another deceptive one is on the Framingham/Natick line that passes Wendy’s.”


I reached out to my lifelong friend and high school classmate and teammate Jason Burke to get his thoughts, as he is approaching his 30th time running Boston. (Jason ran his first Boston Marathon while we were still in high school.) “For me, the toughest part of the course is the hill climbing over Route 128 in Newton,” Burke told me on Sunday before the Boston Marathon. “This is the inflection point of the course, after having dropped about 400 feet in elevation for the first 16 miles of the race and now starting its climb of 150 feet over the next 5 miles to the top of Heartbreak Hill. This section of the course will foreshadow whether you’ll be having fun over the final 10 miles, or will be hating life — I’ve experienced both over the many years!”


Good luck Burkie!


Notable participants

As one of the six “major” marathons in the world, Boston attracts some of the world’s best marathoners each year. Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge is widely recognized as the world’s best marathon runner, having won the last two Olympic gold medals. Kipchoge is also currently the official world record holder, with a mark of 2:01:09. He set that last year while winning the Berlin Marathon. He makes his Boston debut this year, but will face stiff competition from fellow Kenyan Evans Chebet, the defending Boston champion.


On the women’s side, Ethiopian Gotytom Gebreslase is also making her Boston debut. She is the reigning world champion, but will face a tough field that includes two-time Boston champion and fellow Ethiopian Atsede Baysa, as well as Kenyan Mary Ngugi. Ngugi is looking to finally break through in Boston after finishing second in 2021 and third in 2022.


Of course, what also makes Boston special is the massive field of amateur runners. Perhaps the easiest to spot this season will be former Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. The 6’9 Chara is making his Boston debut, and will be running to raise money for Team Hoyt and the Thomas E. Smith Foundation. Team Hoyt is a charitable foundation started by the Hoyt family. Dick Hoyt became a well-known Boston Marathon runner after pushing his son Rick in a wheelchair along the 26.2-mile course dozens of times. Dick Hoyt died in September 2021 at the age of 80.


Schofield, M. (2023, April 16). Boston Marathon 2023: How to watch, what to watch for, course map, and more.

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