On April 18, 2022, Lakeland Networks team member Fraser Burgess competed in the prestigious Boston Marathon. See our previous blog post about Fraser’s marathon journey here: Boston Marathon Bound. The following is Fraser’s recap of race day:
Up at 5am. Met Matt in the hotel lobby at 6am. We took the subway out of downtown Boston to meet our charter bus with group of Windsor / Muskoka Runners at 6:30am. Got a little lost coming out of subway stop but found where we needed to be right on time. Rode 50 minutes or so to Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton. Some great banter on the bus and lots of nervous energy, loved this. Arriving in the small village of Hopkinton there were people on the streets cheering the arrival of the buses—a taste of the fan support to come.
Arrived in Hopkinton at around 7:30 leaving 2.5 hours to race time. Passed the time meeting and sharing stories with other runners. Weather was perfect: sunny, 3 degrees, no wind, and warming. Since we chartered a bus, we didn’t have to enter Athlete’s Village and could stay with our buses in the parking lot. With about an hour to go we made the short walk over to enter Athlete’s Village staging area.
The village resembled a refugee camp with 30,000 runners crammed into a small field with thousands of portapotties. It was chaos compared to the relative calm of the chartered bus area and there was a notable increase in energy and adrenaline. Stay calm—don’t waste an ounce of energy. Luckily, we didn’t stay long as the first corral of ~8000 runners were called to make the 1 mile walk to the start line about 10 minutes after we got into the village.
The chaos of Athlete’s Village gave way to eerie nervous energy walking the mile towards the start corral. I LOVE these moments—feel very ALIVE. Last minute bathroom stop at the start line and found a position near the back of my corral with the other 8,000 runners in my wave. Just as I found my spot, US Air Force did a low flyover of the start line with some fighter jets. 10am and the runners in front of me start moving forward. Walking, jogging, running.
Crossed the start mat, started the watch; I’m running The Boston Marathon. The course rolls downhill significantly for the first 4km which provided an incredible view of the endless train of runners out in front of me. Spectators lined both sides of the streets. A little emotional as we got moving (mixture of pride, validation, gratefulness). Reminded myself to stay calm, don’t get sucked up in the energy. Settled in and ran the first 7km basically to plan—maybe a little slow, enjoying the easy pace.
From 5k to 25k the course flattens out to some rolling hills where you can find the right effort to settle in cruising. Coming out of the downhill the crowds start to thicken a bit and the noise from the sidelines starts to ramp up. Was a neat experience to run alongside and eventually past Shalane Flanagan who was acting as a support runner in the para division for a girl who lost her leg in the 2013 bombing.
Somewhere early in this section I could feel my stomach just wasn’t quite right. Legs felt great but energy systems are clearly off, and I started to get increasingly uncomfortable. Decided to stop around 18k for quick bathroom break hoping I could resolve my stomach issues. No luck.
At ~19km the course starts to rise, and you can hear the famous Wellesley scream tunnel approaching in the distance. Stomach is worse, can feel the energy flushing from body. No gas in the tank. Cross the halfway point 1 minute behind where I wanted to be but that is still fine. Rough patch, still early, stay with it.
To this point the crowd support was very impressive with spectators lining both side of the course basically the entire way. As you cross halfway, the course becomes more urban, and the fan support really starts to pick up and the noise really starts to grow. There is still very little separation in runners—maybe only a meter or two between runners.
Into the Newton Hills. From 25–35k the course makes 4 major rises. It’s cruel punishment at this point of the race and you start to see a lot of people packing it in—plenty of walkers and people stopped to stretch out muscle cramps. I start coming to terms that my stomach is not coming around and my energy systems are way out of whack, a miracle sprint to the finish is not likely. I’m already off pace and starting to suffer badly about 10km before I really should. I come to terms with the fact it’s going to be a bad day from a performance perspective. Resolve to hang tough and run the best I can on the day. Somewhere near Heartbreak Hill I can really feel my body get clammy and all the energy flush out of me.
Hang tough. Triage. Run it in respectably, enjoy the experience. Coming off Heartbreak there is a nice long downhill to be run. Even though I’m having a bad day, the field is still coming back to me rapidly, which is fun and helps distract from the suffer. Fan support is crazy. Manage the next 5k finding a new, but slower groove. Not going to be a good day, but I’m going to get to the line respectably.
Right on Boylston, left Hereford—FINISH line in sight. Grandstands packed on both signs. Running it in. Arms up in celebration crossing the line. Final time is 3:06:15. Performance wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t matter one bit. The experience was everything. I’ll be back here again.