Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Monday, April 16, 2012

Boston Marathon Update

Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock reflects on Monday’s Marathon and “what else Mother Nature can throw at this race.”

By: Alex Ashlock

22,863 runners collected their numbers for Monday’s Boston Marathon, and only 328 of them did not actually toe the starting line in Hopkinton. That’s amazing, because it was so hot and the Boston Athletic Association had told the runners, as long as they picked up their bib numbers, they could defer their entries to next year’s race if they were worried about the heat. The fact that such a small number took the BAA up on that offer either tells you how crazy distance runners are, or how important the Boston Marathon is to them. I’d lean toward the later.

I’ve been covering the marathon since 1998 and I’m starting to wonder what else Mother Nature can throw at this race. Heat waves in 2004 and 2012, the 2007 nor’easter, and the volcano in Iceland two years ago that left many runners stranded in their home countries, unable to fly to Boston because of the ash drifting across Europe. What’s next?

By the way, the forecast for the London Marathon on Sunday calls for temperatures in the 50s and showers. Defending champion Emmanuel Mutai will be there but he was diagnosed with Typhoid just three weeks ago. He’ll be challenged by several other Kenyans, including the world record holder Patrick Makau and the world champion, Abel Kirui. Mutai’s training partner, Bernard Kipyego finished third in the Boston Marathon on Monday. Mutai set a course record when he won London last year, 2-hours-4-minutes-39-seconds.

Here & Now producer Alex Ashlock spent all yesterday interviewing runners, race officials and snapping photos– and he wanted to share these final thoughts on the 116th running of the Boston Marathon.

Runners approach the finish line of the 116th Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday. (AP)

By: Alex Ashlock

It wasn’t a race for the ages like last year’s fastest-ever time posted by Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai, but it was a marathon that will remembered forever because of the brutal conditions.

“Shade,” said one runner soon after he crossed the finish line. Shade was in short supply yesterday. The sun was relentless and the only break the runners got was on that brief stretch where Commonwealth Avenue passes under Mass Ave.

As I was walking back to WBUR around 1:30 pm, it felt like it was about 90 degrees, yet thousands of runners were just a few yards away from that right turn on Hereford Street, then the left on Boylston.

They were going to finish. More than 2,000 runners were treated for dehydration and exhaustion and some were hospitalized. But the marathon’s medical team was prepared for what the coordinator called a mass casualty event. There were medical tents in places I’ve never seen them and more ambulances on standby than I can ever remember.

Kenya’s Wesley Korir won the men’s race in 2:12:40, an unremarkable time on any other day. At about 20 miles, someone on the sideline told Korir he was in 6th place and he said he thought, “If I finish 5th in Boston, that would be awesome. After I passed No. 5 I thought, let me get to fourth. I wasn’t thinking about winning. I was thinking about counting one person at a time.” When he finished counting, there was no one left in front of him and he won the $150,000 first prize.

Another Kenyan, Sharon Cherop overcame a knee injury and the heat to win another razor close women’s race. This was the 5th straight year that contest has been decided by three seconds or less. Cherop was third in the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Canada’s Joshua Cassidy produced a world record in the men’s wheelchair race, pushing to the finish in 1:18:25, two seconds faster than the mark set by South African Ernst Van Dyke in Boston in 2004. You have to wonder if Van Dyk’s day has passed in Boston. He has been a great champion, winning this race nine time, more than anyone else. He finished in 6th yesterday. In the women’s wheelchair race, American Shirley Riley scored some revenge over Wakako Tsuchida, edging the 5-time champion from Japan by just a second. Last year, Riley was second to Tsuchida.

There will no doubt be some faster times run in Sunday’s London Marathon, but yesterday’s Boston Marathon was a testament to the toughness of runners of every talent level. Now I’m looking forward to August and the Olympic Marathon, which will also be run in London.

-Posted Tuesday, 8:45 am

More than 2,000 runners received medical treatment at yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

According to the Boston Athletic Association, between 8 and 10 runners are in critical condition at hospitals– but most were treated and released.

Martha Bebinger of WBUR reports that while yesterday’s race was one of the hottest in history, race organizers say it was not as bad as 2004, when hundreds of runners ended up in emergency rooms.

Around 96 percent of competitors were able to finish the race.

-Posted Tuesday, 8 am

Here’s  how Remus Medley of Baltimore, Md. decided to cross the finish line today:

(Scroll down for winners, times and more photos)

Remus Medley of Baltimore, Md., walks on his hands across the finish line of the 116th Boston Marathon in Boston. (AP)

-Posted 3:30 pm

The Boston Globe reports that medical workers at the marathon are busy tending cases of heat exhaustion and dehydration, but there have been no cases of heat stroke so far, though one female runner collapsed.

“I think there was some positive response from our advice to slow down and so for some of the elite runners, the soreness may not be as bad since many slowed their pace,” Dr. Pierre d’Hemecourt, the Boston Marathon co-medical director told the Globe.

-Posted 2:45 pm

Here & Now‘s Alex Ashlock just stopped by our studios and he’s covered in sweat from just covering the marathon!

“It’s brutal out there,” he said of the heat.

He said there weren’t a lot of elite runners going to the medical tents but he suspects the conditions will be harder for the runners out there for 4 and 5 hours.

-Posted 1:45 pm

Wesley Korir, left, and Sharon Cherop, both of Kenya, kiss the winner's trophy after winning the men's and women's divisions of the 116th Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday. (AP)

The temperatures in Boston is in the 80s already, and about 15 percent of the runners who had registered decided not to even run today.

As we mentioned, defending champion Geoffrey Mutai had to drop out because of cramping.

“A big disappointment for him, he was hoping to run a fast race to make the Kenyan Olympic team,” Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock told Robin from the finish line.

-Posted 12:52 pm

Wesley Korir of Kenya celebrates as he breaks the tape to win the 116th Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday. (AP)

Kenya’s Wesley Korir, a permanent resident of the U.S.  just won the 2012 Boston Marathon in 2:12:40. He pulled ahead of Levi Metabo by 14 seconds in the final half mile.

American Jason Hartmann also had a strong showing– coming in fourth in the men’s elite division.

We’re also hearing that defending champion Geoffrey Mutai has dropped out at the 30-kilometer mark because of cramping, one year after he won the race with the fastest marathon in world history.

And the Associated Press reports that 84 percent of registered runners started Monday’s race in Hopkinton.

-Posted 12:15 pm

Sharon Cherop, of Kenya wins the Boston Marathon. (AP)

Amazing finish on the women’s side, something we’ve gotten used to in Boston in recent years!

Kenya’s Sharon Cherop pulled ahead of her countrywoman Jemima Jelagat Sumong at the last stretch. Her time was 2:31:50– the slowest time in Boston since 1985.

It’s the fifth straight year the women’s race has been decided by 3 seconds or less.

-Posted 12:08 pm 

Women's wheelchair winner Shirley Reilly of the United States, left, crosses the finish line ahead of second-place finisher Wakako Tsuchida of Japan in the 2012 Boston Marathon. (AP)

Shirley Reilly of Tuscon, Arizona won a close race in the women’s Boston Marathon Wheelchair race. Her time was 1:37:34.

“I trained really hard,” she told WBZ TV.

As for the weather, Reilly said “this is pretty cool for me.” She lives in Arizona.

-Posted 11:15 am

(Alex Ashlock/Here & Now)

Here & Now‘s Alex Ashlock is in Boston at Marathon central and he just sent this photo of the canine ambassador at the Marathon hotel the Fairmont Copley. “Best seat in the house,” Alex says.

-Posted 11:03 am

Joshua R. Cassidy, of Canada, pumps his fist and yells as he crosses the finish line to win the men's wheelchair division of the 116th Boston Marathon in Boston. (AP)

Canadian Josh Cassidy won the wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon, with a time of 1:18:25, setting an unofficial world record.

“I’m happy,” he told Boston’s WBZ TV station.

When asked about the hot weather, he said he tried to tune it out.

“It definitely got hot, my head was blowing up…[I]  just don’t think about it, keep going,” he said.

-Posted 10:55 am

Runners start the 116th running of the Boston Marathon, in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday, April 16. (AP)

More than 26,000 runners left the Hopkinton, Mass. starting line in the 116th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Temperatures are expected to rival 1976, when 40 percent of entrants dropped out when it broke into the mid-90s and marathon officials have offered registered runners an opportunity to sit this one out and come back to run in 2013.

Those who do run are being advised to slow their pace.

The race’s medical staff is telling people who are inexperienced and those who have been ill not to run.

-Posted Monday, April 15 10:15 am

The Associated Press contributed reporting.


  • Alex Ashlock, Here & Now producer

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

June 6 Comment

Introducing A New Here & Now Website

Coming June 9, 2016, Here & Now listeners and visitors will experience our stories and journalism online in a whole new way.

June 3 Comment

Teenagers Create Impromptu Exhibit At San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art

As the pair toured the museum, they wondered if they could do better. So 16-year-old Kevin Nguyen decided to get creative.

June 3 3 Comments

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Author Explores Conformity, Mental Health In New Teen Novel

Matthew Quick published his fourth young adult book, "Every Exquisite Thing," this week.

June 2 13 Comments

Do Meal Kits Provide Great Taste Along With Convenience?

Resident chef Kathy Gunst tested a multitude of meal kits, and gives co-host Jeremy Hobson the inside scoop.