Your Guide to the Boston Marathon

Before meeting a handful of our 2014 Boston-qualifying runners, let’s take a moment to cover some basics for the non-running community. (This is, after all, a bike shop!)


Boston Athletic Association BAA Boston MarathonBoston Athletic Association (B.A.A): Organizer of every Boston Marathon since its inception in 1897. More than 125 years after its inception, the Boston Athletic Association continues to be a leader within the sport of road racing and annually carries on the tradition of the Boston Marathon. The B.A.A. promotes a healthy lifestyle through the support of comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running programs.


Boston Marathon: The world’s oldest annual marathon, ranking as one of the world’s most prestigious road racing events. It has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and method of gaining entry into the race via qualification.


Boylston Street: A major east-west thoroughfare in Boston. As it heads east, toward the ocean, it runs through the area of Boston known as Backbay. Here, on a one-way, three-lane stretch of Boylston Street, where the road creates the northern boundary of Copley Square, the finish line of the Boston Marathon is hand-painted each year.


Boston Marathon 2013 Boylston Street Boston MA Joy Aaron Sherrick


BQ: (To) Boston qualify. The Boston Marathon set itself apart by creating strict qualifying times for its participants. About one-fifth of the slots available are allocated to charities and race partners, but the vast majority of runners have to prove that they have run a qualifying race within a qualifying time, determined by their gender and age. Qualifying for the race, however, does not guarantee a runner’s entry. The number of participants is capped. The fastest qualifiers, in relation to their age and gender, are accepted first, until the race is full.


Heartbreak Hill: The last of four hills runners encounter in the city of Newton. In 1936, Ellison “Tarzan” Brown and Johnny Kelley, the defending Boston Marathon champion, were dueling it out on the course. It was here, on the fourth of the Newton hills, where Brown made another – and what turned out to be his last – surge, passing Kelley, and going on to win the marathon that year. It was said that it was on this hill that Brown broke Kelley’s heart.


Boston Marathon 2013 Hopkinton Start Athletes Village Joy Sherrick


Hopkinton: The town where the Boston Marathon begins. The starting line was moved here in 1924, to conform with the newly-established marathon distance of 26 miles 385 yards. The Boston Marathon is a point-to-point race. Unlike marathons, like the Chicago Marathon, which make a big loop, the Boston Marathon begins and ends in different cities. Race morning, runners are bused to Hopkinton, where an Athlete Village is set up. After leaving Hopkinton, the course runs through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline, before finishing on Boylston in Boston.


Kenmore Square/Citgo Sign: The infamous Citgo sign in Kenmore Square represents the point in the marathon where runners only have one mile left in the marathon. What runners forget is that the last mile begins at the sign, not when the sign is first visible. Twenty four plus miles into the marathon, the Citgo sign appears like a mirage to runners, with it appearing to get farther away as runners approach it.


Newton Hills: A series of four hills in the town of Newton. After a serious leg-devouring descent into Newton Falls, runners face a series of four hills over four miles, from mile 17 to 21. The hills don’t involve any incredible incline. They do, however, appear at the point of the marathon course where runners are already hitting the infamous “Wall.”


Boston Marathon 2013 Hopkinton Start Joy SherrickPatriots’ Day: A civic and regional holiday, officially the third Monday in April. The holiday commemorates the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. It celebrates the efforts of the men, the Patriots, like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and other Minute Men, who fought for American independence. With businesses, schools and universities closed, more than 500,000 people spend their holiday cheering on runners of the Boston Marathon, so that many refer to the holiday as “Marathon Monday.”


The Wall: Not specific to the Boston Marathon, “the wall” is the point in the body when gylcogen stores are depleted in the liver and muscles. (Cyclists refer to this point as “the bonk.”) At this moment, a race becomes very much about the mental ability to push through than the body being physically able. For marathoners, this point is typically at mile 17 or 18 of the course. Here, in Boston, that would be at the soul-crushing – or “heartbreaking” – Newton Hills.


Spike: (This is really a bonus. No one will ask you who Spike is, but knowing could give you some street cred.) Spike is the official mascot of the B.A.A. The unicorn is a fitting representation for the Boston Marathon that, for many, is only a fantasy.


For several of our Higher Gear customers this year, it is no longer fantasy! Meet Higher Gear customers who are running in the 2014 Boston Marathon:


For more information:



Joy Sherrick Boston Marathon 2013


Joy Sherrick is a two-time Boston-qualifier and a Boston Marathon 2013 survivor. She will be returning to run Boston in 2015. Joy runs, but she also bikes, swims, strength trains, practices yoga and plays soccer. She is a fitness coach and Higher Gear’s own fitness guru. She is also her IronMan husband‘s biggest cheerleader.



Need Help? Have Questions?

Highland Park | 847-433-2453
Wilmette | 847-256-2330

  • E-Mail
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon