The Boston Marathon: an incredible display of strength, endurance, and perseverance from athletes who have come together from around the world to compete against each other in this 26.2 mile race. The Boston Marathon route takes you from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to Copley Square in the heart of Boston, across arguably the most challenging and hilly of the six courses in the Marathon Major Series.
The Boston Marathon is essentially a holiday for Boston’s citizens; it falls on Patriots’ Day, a celebration which marks the start of the American Revolution. However, Patriots’ Day is more of an excuse for Boston’s citizens to celebrate the thousands of athletes who are competing. “Because it was on Patriots’ Day, we did not have class and could go to Boston to support the runners,” explained Tufts University student Fritz Oldenburg, who attended the event. “The subway systems were packed and the stores near the [course] were busy.”
However, the 2023 Boston Marathon had a slightly apprehensive feeling for some; it marked the 10th anniversary of a domestic terrorist attack at the 2013 Boston Marathon, where two bombs were detonated near the finish line, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others. 10 years later, there are lasting effects of this attack. “There was a ton of security,” said Oldenburg. “Beginning on the subway system all the way to the side of the race, there was always a security officer in sight.”
Getting into the Boston Marathon is very competitive, as the qualifying times for being selected to race are incredibly challenging to meet. However, according to The New York Times, 20 percent of Boston participants are accepted to race by raising money for a charity, which is a fantastic way to support charities while also increasing the spirit of the event. The Boston Marathon isn’t just a draw for athletes because of its charity partnerships; it is also known for having highly competitive men’s and women’s wheelchair races, in addition to the running events. It is a neat opportunity for athletes of all ages and abilities to come together and compete.
The 2023 Boston Marathon’s men’s and women’s running races had some of the most elite fields of any marathon in recent years. Men’s race participants included the current marathon world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya; the 2022 Boston Marathon winner, Evans Chebet from Kenya; the 10th fastest marathoner of all time, Gabriel Geay of Tanzania; and Benson Kipruto from Kenya, the 2021 Boston Marathon winner and 11th fastest marathon runner ever. Also in this race were Scott Fauble and Conner Mantz, two of the best current American marathoners, who ended up finishing in 7th and 11th in this race, respectively. The presence of all of these elite athletes certainly added to the anticipation of the race, as well as to the pressure on the athletes to perform well.
Many favored Kipchoge to win the Boston Marathon because of his marathon dominance over the past few years. “There was a feeling of anticipation to see Eliud Kipchgoe,” explained Oldenburg, but this race proved to be an upset for those who thought he would win. Kipchoge ended up coming in sixth place in this race, finishing roughly three and a half minutes after the eventual winner, Evans Chebet, who won his second consecutive Boston Marathon with a time of two hours, five minutes, and 54 seconds. In second place was Geay, who finished in a time of two hours, six minutes, and four seconds, followed closely by Kipruto, who crossed the finish line two seconds later.
Chebet and Geay had somewhat of an advantage over Kipchoge coming into this race, as both of them had competed in Boston the year before. Because of how challenging the Boston course is, this extra experience likely helped them to achieve their great performances. Kipchoge was with the lead pack until just after the half-marathon mark, where he began to fall off the lead pace. In an interview with letsrun.com, Kipchoge cited some tightness in his left leg as the reason for his sub-optimal performance, so he decided to settle into a more comfortable pace to avoid injury.
In the women’s race there was also steep competition, including Lonah Salpeter, the fifth fastest female marathoner of all time; Amane Beriso of Ethiopia, the 3rd fastest female marathoner; Hellen Obiri of Kenya, the fifth fastest female half-marathoner, participating in her second full marathon ever; and Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia, the 2022 Boston Marathon runner-up, to name a few of the top competitors. Also in the race was the current top female American marathoner, Emma Bates.
Obiri ended up winning the 2023 women’s Boston Marathon in a time of two hours, 21 minutes, and 38 seconds, winning her second marathon ever and her Boston Marathon debut. Beriso finished in second place, Salpeter finished in third place, and Yeshaneh finished in fourth, all within 22 seconds of Obiri in this close race. Bates ended up finishing fifth, with a time of two hours, 22 minutes, and 10 seconds, her fastest marathon time ever.
For Obiri, winning her second marathon race was indeed very impressive, after coming in sixth place in last year’s New York Marathon. When we take a look at her running resume we can see the kind of racing experience that led to this high level performance. Obiri holds four Kenyan national records in the outdoor mile, outdoor 3k, indoor 3k, and outdoor 5k, as well as an African record in the 4x1500m relay, according to the World Athletics website .
Another notable performance was in the men’s wheelchair division, where Marcel Hug from Switzerland smashed his own course record of one hour, 18 minutes, and three seconds by almost an entire minute, finishing in a time of one hour, 17 minutes, and six seconds, over 10 minutes ahead of the second place finisher. This was Hug’s sixth Boston Marathon win in the wheelchair division, as he had previously won in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021.
In the women’s wheelchair race, American athlete Susannah Scaroni won with a lead of about five minutes over the rest of the field in a time of one hour, 41 minutes and 45 seconds. This was after stopping during the race to repair one of her wheels. This was Scaroni’s first Boston Marathon win, after placing second last year and winning the 2022 New York and Chicago marathons, two of the other races in the Marathon Major Series.
The Boston Marathon’s wheelchair division is a highly competitive opportunity for disabled athletes to compete on one of the world’s biggest stages. The wheelchair races are even more difficult to qualify for than the running races, as the maximum field size of the 2023 wheelchair division was just 45 athletes.
The 2023 Boston Marathon was a big hit, drawing roughly 30,000 athletes and half a million spectators. “It definitely felt like the whole city was celebrating,” said Oldeburg. This day was a day to celebrate one of the biggest, most popular marathons in the world, and all of the athletes who participated.