Forecasted temperatures for Monday’s race are in the 80′s.
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BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox had their home opener here today, and local weather forecasters have been gushing about the sunny and warm day that awaits fans at Fenway Park. But their tones turned somber when they spoke about conditions for Monday’s 116th Boston Marathon.
“It’s going to be absolutely perfect for April baseball around here,” meteorologist Dylan Dreyer told her viewers on the local NBC affiliate this morning. ”But, for the marathon it looks very, very hot, starting off at ten o’clock in the morning at 72 degrees (22C), 86 (30C) for a temperature later in the afternoon. So, there will be some serious concern for the heat.”
When asked about the conditions for Monday’s race –the hottest here since 2004 when the mercury hit 86F (30C)– the top athletes didn’t seem fazed, and at least one was enthusiastic about it.
“I’m excited about that,” said Kenya’s Wesley Korir, the runner-up at last October’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon which was also held in warm conditions. ”I’ve always done well in hot weather.”
Korir, who clocked a personal best of 2:06:15 in Chicago, wasn’t cavalier, however. He said that he would simply factor in the weather as one of the obstacles he had to overcome in order to contend for victory.
“With the warm weather you have to be careful,” he intoned. ”No matter what happens, I have to put myself in position to be in contact with the leaders near the end of the race.”
Weather for the Boston has been famously variable, and has played a big role in about two dozen editions of the race. The event has seen snowy conditions five times, driving rain twice (it was almost cancelled in 2007 because of a Nor’easter), and unseasonably warm conditions ten times. Also, because the race is is run on a hilly point-to-point course from west to east, the wind can also play a big factor in determining the pace. That was especially true last year when a powerful tailwind helped propel Geoffrey Mutai to victory in an improbable 2:03:02.
“Last year I didn’t expect that time,” said 2010 ING New York City Marathon champion Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia who finished third behind Mutai in 2:04:53. ”Now we know we can run fast at Boston.”
Gebremariam said that Monday’s weather wouldn’t affect his overall race strategy.
“I feel good, I feel strong,” he said. ”I prepared for the race for four months. I’m feeling that the weather is the same for everybody; same for Kenyans, same for us.”
The last hot edition of Boston was in 2004 when Kenyans Timothy Cherigat and Catherine Ndereba were victorious. Nderba won in a dramatic battle with Ethiopia’s Elfenesh Alemu, and collapsed at the finish line because her legs were so badly cramped from the heat.
“The heat was so tough, I don’t even have words to say,” Nderba told Race Results Weekly after the race. ”Towards the finish I felt like I was dead. All of a sudden I had those cramps in my calves. I could not stand it!”
Boston, like the ING New York City Marathon, doesn’t employ pacemakers and finish time has never been particularly important. Boston is the only event in the World Marathon Majors which doesn’t offer athletes a schedule of time incentive bonuses, although there is a $50,000 bonus for a world “best” (2:03:02/2:15:55) and a $25,000 payment for a course record (2:03:02/2:20:43).
The bottom line, athletes said, in Boston is about winning.
“I think it’s all about relative performance,” said Jason Hartmann, one of two American men in the race’s invited field. ”As far as times go, weather is a factor: a 25 MPH wind at your back and a guy runs 2:03:02. Two years ago, it was 2:15, 2:14 that won. The simplicity of running is just trying to beat people. That’s what I kind of like to focus on.”