The Boston Marathon is facing 80-degree temperatures today, causing as many as 4,000 runners to sit out this year.
22,426 runners started Monday’s Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, about 80 percent of the registered 27,000. The forecast led organizers to offer to a largely unprecedented deferment into next year’s race.
Forecasts call for 73 degrees at the 10 a.m. start in Hopkinton, 80 degrees at the halfway point in Wellesley by 11 a.m. and 82 degrees at the Back Bay finish line at noon. For the recreational runners expected to be out on the course later that afternoon, temperatures are expected to peak at 84 by 3 p.m..
"We're asking runners who haven't run previously to think about tomorrow and maybe coming back next year," Boston Mayor Tom Menino told attendees at the traditional pre-race pasta dinner at City Hall Plaza on Sunday night. "We don't want to have any accidents out there, or anybody overtaken by the heat."
"Only the fittest runners should consider running. The risks that you'll see tomorrow are simply greater than normal," BAA executive director Tom Grilk said, advising runners who do line up at the start to slow their pace and focus on finishing rather than having a fast time. "You should adopt the attitude that this is not a race; it is an experience."
This is not the hottest year for the Boston Marathon though; the 1909 race that came to be known as "The Inferno," hit 97 degrees, and the 1976 "Run for the Hoses" started with 100-degree heat and finished with spectators sprinkling winner Jack Fultz with garden hoses to cool him down.
Runners who do show up will have access to plenty of water, however. Five-gallon jugs of water already lined the route early in the morning as volunteers and medical staff stood by preparing for the arrival of hot and tired runners.
The last on-course death of a Boston Marathon participant occurred in 2002.