2007 Boston Marathon Nor’Easter – Update

Sunday 9:00 pm CDT update: What you see is what you get. No changes. See below for more details. Good luck!!

Saturday 9:00 pm CDT update: No changes to the forecast. See the Friday update for more details. This has been well-modeled from the being and it looks like the low will be centered over southern CT during the race. The heaviest rain should end by early morning but showers will be expected throughout the race. Final update will be Sunday evening.

Friday 8:00 pm CDT update: The latest computer model information suggests that the worst case scenario for Monday may not come to pass, but runners should still be prepared for very poor conditions.

The ensembles are in very good agreement that the center of the storm will be located just south of Boston at the start of the race, which means winds will be out of the east-northeast. The wind speeds are a bit tricky since the center of low pressure will be so close, but I think that sustained winds of 20-30 mph with gusts over 40 mph are not out of the question. Since the storm is expected to loop around a bit on Monday, runners could find that winds shift direction during the course of the race.

The models also suggest that the heaviest rain will fall in the 12 hours prior to the start of the race, but that wind-whipped showers can be expected throughout the afternoon. The threat of frozen precipitation appears diminished, but with temperatures around 40 and winds over 20 mph hitting your face, any rain will still sting the cheeks.

I think the worst time for runners will be in the hours leading up to the start at Hopkinton. They will be exposed to the elements when the wind and rain could be at its worst. My advice would be to buy a cheap pair of rain pants/jacket that you can discard at the start. During the race, runners will be at a high risk of leg cramps as body heat is rapidly removed from their bodies by the wind and rain, especially over Heartbreak Hill. The worst part of the actual race will be the last four miles from Cleveland Circle to the finish as a headwind will come whipping off the ocean. The wind will actually increase in intensity just when the runners are most tired.

Don’t plan on any PRs and run conservatively in the beginning and you should survive. Good luck! I plan to update the weather forecast Saturday and Sunday night.

Original post: The computer models are in good agreement that Monday’s Boston Marathon will coincide with a powerful late-season Nor’easter. While the exact track of the storm is still uncertain, the 2007 Boston Marathon could conceivably be the slowest in over 30 years due to the storm.

The last time the winner of the Boston Marathon ran slower than 2:15 was in 1976, when Jack Fultz of the United States won the race in 2:20:19 (temperatures were in the 90s and more than 40% of the field did not finish). In fact, since 1980, only one winner (Geoff Smith of Great Britain – 2:14:04) has run slower than 2:13. With the Nor’easter expected to be centered just south of Boston by Monday afternoon, runners can expect sheets of rain possibly mixed with sleet and snow with easterly winds of 25-35 mph with gusts over 50 mph. Temperatures will likely be in the upper 30s to the lower 40s.

Incidentally, there was a big Nor’easter the week before the 1996 Boston Marathon that dumped over a foot of snow on the Boston area. I qualified for this race and it remains the only time I have run the Boston marathon. Race day started nice and warm in Hopkinton with sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s but a strong easterly wind dropped temperatures into the low 40s once you got over Heartbreak hill. I dropped out near the MIT campus (21 mile mark) with bad cramps in both hamstrings. I was severely undertrained for the race due in part to the 100+ inches of snow that fell during the winter of 1995-96 in State College, PA, when I was working at AccuWeather. It is tough to do well in a marathon when you are only running about 10 miles a week in preparation.

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