Boston Marathon

Is today the worst weather in Boston Marathon history? It depends how you define ‘worst.’

This year's runners are facing rain, wind, and cold.

The start of the 2018 Boston Marathon. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Massachusetts weather in April can be unpredictable, to say the least. Despite that, throughout the Boston Marathon‘s 122 years, the historic race has never been cancelled due to the weather.

From ice and snow to sun and heat, runners have trekked on through the elements, and today is no different. So far, runners have been facing rain showers, high winds, and temperatures in the 40s. There is even a chance for a thunderstorm this afternoon. But is it the worst weather in the history of the Boston Marathon?

“It’s not good,” said meteorologist David Epstein. “I think it’s perspective. Some people would rather have this than extreme heat. I think the heat thing can really get to people more in some ways than this.”


Here’s a look at some of the most notable inclement or extreme weather conditions throughout Boston Marathon history, based on the Boston Athletic Association’s recording:


Boston Daily Globe from April 20, 1909.

The temperature reached 97 degrees during the race, according to the BAA. Runners had trouble dealing with the adverse conditions, according to this Boston Daily Globe article.

“The race of yesterday will take its place in the annals of the BAA races as the most severe strain that well-trained athletes was ever subjected to…The conditions yesterday were the worst that could be imagined,” the article read.


Boston Daily Globe from April 21, 1925.

It was a chilly race day in 1925, with cold wind and occasional snow showers throughout the race.

“It snowed, the flurrying kind, and all in all, it was a treacherous day,” according to the Globe.


Boston Daily Globe from April 20, 1927.

Referred to as a “summer heat” by the Globe, the weather also took its toll on runners in 1927. The BAA notes that a newly surfaced, uncured road actually melted underneath the runners’ shoes as they made their way to Boston.


“His triumph yesterday was scored under a scorching sun that saw many of the runners just as severe as in 1909, when all of the big stars failed … ,” the Globe wrote, describing winner Clarence H. De Mar, of Melrose.


Boston Globe from April 20, 1961.

Snow squalls were driven by 10 to 12 mile-per-hour winds in 1961, the BAA noted. The temperature was 39 degrees, meaning the runners (and spectators) needed to find a way to stay warm.

“The runners wore quite a variety of costumes in deference to the weather, with motormen’s gloves adding a formal touch. Some of the spectator costumes were noticeable too,” the Globe wrote. “One teen-age gal near the starting line, drew attention with a sweat shirt, adorned by a the Olympic symbol and the legend, ‘U.S.A. Necking Team.'”


The BAA said that during much of this race the humidity reached more than 95 percent.

“What all this means is today’s Boston Marathon could be run in unexpected heat, uncomfortable humidity and into a headwind,” the Globe wrote.


Ray Capes, of Newton, uses hose to offer Boston Marathon runners relief from the heat as they climb Heartbreak Hill in 2004.


Extreme heat was an issue again this year. The Globe wrote that the temperature reached 85 degrees, making it the hottest marathon since 1987. The paper noted that the “heat was too much to bear.”

Over 1,100 people had to be treated for heat-related injuries, such as dehydration and heart ailments.


The Boston Marathon passes on Route 135 through Ashland as runners try to avoid a puddle as they pass along Union Street in the rain in 2007.

This marathon was nearly cancelled, as there were 20-to-30 mile-per-hour headwinds expected along with a wind chill in the 20s. There was even snow on the ground in Hopkinton.

“Engineers were worried that the photo bridge and bleachers could come down in the wind and warming tents could collapse,” the Globe wrote.

Volunteers didn’t show up, power lines went down, and there was plenty of sleet and rain, but the race went on.


Stefano Durante of Italy cools off under hose held by Kathryn O’Friel (not shown) of Ashby while climbing Heartbreak Hill in the heat in 2012.

It was so hot this year that more than 2,100 runners had to be treated for dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other heat-related issues along the course. The Globe noted that the heat reached the mid-80s, forcing many runners to head to the hospital for illness after the race.


The elite men runners break from the starting line during the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday, April 16, 2018.


Temperatures range from the upper 30s to the mid-40s during the duration of the 2018 race. Some locales along the marathon route could see an inch-and-a-half of rain, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters also expect sustained winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour.