Pavement condition of Boston Marathon course?

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by dano-oly, Jul 26, 2021.

  1. dano-oly

    dano-oly Barefooters

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    Planning this as my first BF marathon and am hoping someone can report on the current state of the roadways. I do most of my runs on fairly smooth pavement and don't think I would fare too well if there were too many well-worn sections (or, heaven forbid, chipseal.) Last reports I could find here on BRS seem to be from 10+ years ago. Looking at Google Street View (latest footage from 2019 and 2020) there appear to be a few areas around Ashland and the western portion of Beacon Street in the City that don't look great.
     
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  2. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Perhaps you could message Theresa Withee to ask her. She completed it barefoot, the first female to do so.

    https://www.thebarefootrunners.org/...man-to-run-boston-barefoot-an-interview.5648/

    I don't know that a shoddie would be keen enough to pay attention to the surface. ;)
     
  3. dano-oly

    dano-oly Barefooters

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    Thanks, TJ! I note that in the article, she said, "The first half was on old tar roads... and some places had a lot of dirt still on the road from the winter, but otherwise, it was barefoot-friendly."

    It'd be nice to get more info on the "old tar" sections....
     
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  4. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Maybe they've been repaired since. I think she's ran it more than that once.
     
  5. dano-oly

    dano-oly Barefooters

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    Thanks, TJ. Haven't heard back from Theresa yet. It's been about 10 years since she posted so not sure if she checks in here anymore.

    Something tells me I'll need to check out the western portion of the course when I get into town. Will also start training on some rougher surfaces just in case.
     
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  6. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Let us know what you find out. You're not the first to ask about the condition. :barefoot:
     
  7. dano-oly

    dano-oly Barefooters

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    TL;DR: The pavement condition is good overall.

    I drove the western 15 miles of the course the day before, getting out and walking or running in about half a dozen places. Not encountering any bad areas, I decided to go for it.

    Amusingly, Main Street in Hopkinton has been recently repaved with a beautiful fresh coat of blacktop... up to about 100 yards beyond the start line. Beyond that, the asphalt is generally in good condition, fairly smooth though by no means new. Maybe 15 years old if I had to guess. In the first couple miles there is a 3-foot wide longitudinal patch (likely for utility work) that aerial views show was done in 2013/2014. I found this area to be a bit smoother. Pavement through the towns was generally good. Some areas of Natick I found a little rougher, such as along Fisk Pond.

    The eastern half of the course was more inconsistent. While still mostly good, there were stretches where the asphalt was rougher. These were usually not too long. Parts of Newton, such as the downhill after Heartbreak, were in worse shape than others. As I’d noted in my original post, some areas of Brookline such as western Beacon Street were probably the worst. On Street View, you can clearly see areas of cracking and raveling; this is from about mile 22.5 to 23.5. It was still manageable—I did my best Ken Bob imitation—but I’m glad I had gotten in some training on more-worn surfaces. I’ll also mention that my soles were becoming more sensitive after about mile 20, so part of my perception may be because of that.

    I heard that the course had been swept a few days before the race. There were no leaves or twigs, and very few pebbles.

    I didn't see any other shoeless runners. At about mile 15, someone called out that I was the first barefooter they'd seen. So unless someone puts forth evidence to the contrary, I'm going to just lay claim to first place in the barefoot category with a 3:29 o_O
     
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  8. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Definitely! Congrats to you! :barefoot:
     
  9. macdiver

    macdiver Barefooters
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    Congrats and a sub 3:30 time is amazing.
     
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