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Boston Marathon runners fight the elements

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  April 16, 2012 02:20 PM

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patriotsrunner.jpgAs hundreds of Boston Marathon runners crossed the Boylston Street finish line, many in need of aid, thanks to mid-summer-like temperatures that made the 26.2-mile course an even larger challenge than in more temperate climates, there was Brad Golden, from San Diego, clad in a full, red, white, and blue bodysuit. Somehow, he was breaking nary a sweat.

"You know, it's Patriots Day and this is the best country in the world," he said. "So what if it's a little hot?"

That's a refrain hardly echoed by the thousands of others who ran the 116th running of the annual Hopkinton-to-Boston classic, an event that saw about 5,000 runners drop out because of the heat. Those who did run didn't treat the elements lightly.

"It was a real test," said David Beauley of Sunnydale, Calif. "That was about as much as I've been tested in any run."

This was Beauley's seventh time running Boston, and he acknowledged these conditions were different from anything else he had experience on a race course.

"At first, since the course pulls you in with a nice steady deceptive downhill, you can feel good the first couple miles, and all of a sudden - wham - it can hit you with the realization that you've got a long way to go."

The journey, of course, is always aided by the 500,000 spectators who line the course sidelines, cheering on elite runners, friends, and complete strangers in their quest.

"The crowd was awesome, so beautiful. Nothing compares to this. LA is a little similar, but this is just so beautiful. Nothing can compare," said Whitney Patton, a native of San Marcos, Calif., who made her way to the finish area water station on bare feet, having shed sneakers that she decided were too small.

"The crowd support here is the best aid station you could have," Golden said. "Just 26 miles of the most enthusiastic people in Boston. It's a day made in heaven."

Because of the heat, race organizers increased the number of aid stations along the way, a decision that had racers grateful for the support.

"They do a fantastic job" said Tim Perry, a New Hampshire resident and graduate of the University of New Hampshire. "As long as you use common sense out there, you're OK."

"Volunteers are awesome," said Corey Deveaux, of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, who suffered the unfortunate event of having his iPod break right around Mile 20, after running to a playlist that included AC/DC, Guns and Roses, and LMFAO.

This year marked the second time in the last eight years that the marathon's conditions were not ideal, following in the footsteps of 2004's Patriots Day scorcher. As with any marathon, runners were keeping a close eye on the forecast as the day crept closer, none expecting a mid-April day like this.

"It was really hot, it was really hard," Whitney Tawney, a native of Upland, Calif., said. "I was afraid it was going to be freezing cold at Boston so I was so disappointed to see it was going to be so hot. I was just so depressed, so disappointed. I really wanted to do my best PR [personal record] at this race, and I knew I wouldn't be able to."

Full body suit or not, it was that sort of day for runners.

"It was definitely a hot course. I'll admit it. There were a lot of people who came unprepared," Golden said. "It was just a tough day, all in all."

Now that's something the San Diego native and thousands of runners can agree on.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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