Monday, April 6, 2009

15 Days to Boston Marathon: Forecasting

With less than 15 days before the 113th running of the famed Boston Marathon hits the streets of Beantown, why not explore some of the fun facts surrounding the race? I'll countdown to race day with some random bits of information for the race that filled to capacity a few months ago and expects to draw at least 200 runners from Chicago itself, and almost 800 from Illinois. They're all associated with the race and published in random order with no specific level of importance.

Today I'm kicking off with something that will hit home to all of us in the Windy City, who stared out the window into a snow storm yesterday. If you're a little shocked at the snow falling on April 5, don't be surprised if you see some other unusual happenings from Mother Nature come April 20. She's been known to brew some crazy clouds and hellacious heat over New England before. Take some of these notable years:

  • 2007--a Nor'easter was expected to thrash down on Boston Monday morning, just in time for the race. It poured Sunday night and waiting for the buses in Boston Common to ride to Hopkinton was a puddled mess, but the rain slowed, at least for most of the race, to only make the run a little chilly as opposed to soggy--kind of like the 2008 Banco Popular Chicago Half Marathon that runners called a monsoon. And labeled that day as having the worst weather conditions since 1970. Yikes!
  • 2006--according to one blog, this year had temperatures that runners could only dream of for running a 26.2 journey. Lucky ducks! He even checked out the Farmers Almanac forecast for the day and it didn't sound too bad.
  • 2004--this day sounds a lot like the 2007 Chicago Marathon that many runners would like to forget. The temperature was 83 degrees when the race started at noon and 86 degrees by mid-day when many runners were finishing. The crazy part is that didn't keep runners from crossing the finish line: 20,404 entrants, 18,003 starters, 16,783 finishers. A record number of runners were treated for heat-related illnesses on this hottest Patriots Day since 1976.
  • 1999--another warm day, although nothing in comparison to 2004, where temperatures reached 70 degrees in Wellesley. But 98 percent of those starting the race finished despite the warmer day.
  • 1976--the Bicentennial year race went down as the "run for the hoses," with temperatures swelling past 100 degrees and more than 40 percent of the 1,898 starters to pull out before finishing. This is the hottest Boston Marathon on record.
  • 1970--you'd have been pretty determined to run this race which saw tons of rain and 44-degree chilly temperatures.
  • 1968--temperatures were a bit on the warm side, at 72 degrees, the year Amby Burfoot, now an editor at Runner's World, captured the crown.
  • 1961--Boston gets cold too, facing 39-degree temperatures and cold winds blowing off the Atlantic.
  • 1958--another hot one, where this April day rose to 84 degrees. And the 1956 Olympics runner-up Franjo Mihalic won and is the first and only Eastern European resident to win the race.
  • 1952--again it was hot, where temperatures reached 88 degrees.
  • 1941 and 1942--these years went from one extreme to the other. It was a warm 72 degrees in 1941, followed up by a chillier 44 degrees the next year.
  • 1914 and 1915--both of these races were labeled as being held on unseasonably warm days.
  • 1909--not quite a run for the hoses, but with marathon running not being as popular as it is today, I'm surprised the race was even held with temperatures reaching 97 degrees. Heat wave!

Race day weather really can be a total crap shoot. Not only has the race had its ups and downs of extremes in its 113-year history, but you never know what'll happen from one year to the next. Take 2008 where it was almost starting to look a little like a repeat of 2007--minus the downpours--before the race started. But in the time it took to board a bus in Boston Common and arrive at Hopkinton High School the gray sky started to push out and it began to warm up. When the second wave of runners took off for Boylston Street, the sun was out and it had warmed to 60-something degrees, good for spectators and not so good for all runners, especially those of us who dealt with winter cold and snow while training.

As for the 2009 forecast? only forecasts 10 days ahead, but it lists the average high at 58 degrees and the average low at 42. But the highest recorded temperature for April 20 was 89 degrees and the lowest was 21. Accuweather's 15-day forecast only goes as far as Sunday, April 19, and that's predicted to be 46 degrees and overcast. Or if you're looking for the Old Farmer's Almanac prediction...that's calling for cool temps, maybe some showers. I wonder who will be right. Photo grabbed from mccannjl2002 at Flickr. Posted by Kate

P.S. 15 days was technically on Sunday, I just got a little late with my posting so you'll see a double for today with No. 14 arriving later.



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