Your Boston Marathon Experience
I’d like to thank the 54 people who took the time to complete the survey. I know you are always being asked to fill out surveys and join mailing lists. If you are like me, you have little spare time to sort through your in-box and answer surveys.
First, the demographics. I looked at Running USA’s 2013 Annual Marathon Report to get some numbers for comparison. I had to combine Running USA’s male & female percentages and run a complex algorithm in my head to come up with my combined percentage by age group. It’s complex stuff. Their sample size was much larger than mine. I have no doubt that there were people 24 or younger and 75 or older that ran Boston. They just didn’t make it into my small sample.
|Age||Responses||%||Running USA %|
In my survey the 35-44 age group, at 44%, has a much higher participation rate than the national average of 31%. The 45-54 bracket is also higher than the national average (25% v 21%). If my survey is representative of the entire 2014 Boston Marathon field, it looks like the Boston Marathon is for middle-aged folks with the 35-54 brackets consisting of over 73% of the field.
This may indicate that the expense of registering for and traveling to Boston deters younger runners from participating. Or it could be a sampling error.
The Running USA survey shows that female participation peeks in the 25-34 age bracket (35%), where male participation peeks in the 35-44 bracket where both sexes have a 31% participation rate. Male participation continues to trail off but at a slower rate than female participation as they age.
My survey has a Male/Female split of 55/45% and Running USA has a 57/43% split for all marathon finishers in 2013. The numbers are essentially the same.
Now for the fun stuff – survey answers
Combining questions 1 & 2:
For 14 runners, 2014 was their first Boston Marathon, for 3 runners Boston was their first marathon ever. I combined the results into the table below.
|# of Marathons||# of Boston|
For a lot of people this was their first or second Boston Marathon (14 & 11 respectively). I didn’t align my questions exactly, but this is for fun, not for science. While the experience with Boston skews to first or second running, the group as a whole is well seasoned. Fourteen people have run more than five marathons and twelve have run ten. Four people more than 20, and 5 people more than 30 marathons. Almost 65% of respondents have run 5 or more marathons.
Question 3 was, “What was your favorite part of the Boston Marathon?”
While no one favorited the pasta dinner,
32 people gave a shout out to the crowd/spectator support,
23 people said the best part was finishing and
21 people said the Boston Marathon Experience and Running The Boston Marathon were their favorite parts of the event.
I’ve never been to the pasta dinner. I hear it’s crowded and the food isn’t great. The BAA also assigns specific seating times. If you are there with friends, you probably won’t be able to eat together. Runners are a friendly crowd, but if I went I’d like to go with my running buddies.
Question 4 was, “Feelings about Heartbreak Hill”.
22 people said the crowd support was awesome, which is a good thing because that’s what it takes sometimes to get up that hill. Three people even said it was their favorite part of the race! Wow. One person even answered – That’s not a hill! I always say that with a Crocodile Dundee accent.
It was evenly split with 14 people saying, “I hate that hill!” and “No big deal”. Only 3 people said this was their first Boston. Everyone else had run this hill on race day at least once. The hill can be a harsh surprise for newbie’s. It can also be cruel to experienced and knowledgeable runners also.
Question 5 was, “Would you run another marathon?”
Only 4 people said “No”. 48 people said yes (20), “I want to run Boston again” (15) and 13 said they had already signed up for their next marathon.
Question 6 was, “What do you wish someone had told you about the Boston Marathon?”
This question drew twelve comments.
3 – Train more on down hills
3 – Felt prepared knew what to expect
2 – Train more in hot weather
One person each said that, they wish they knew there were porta potties near the corrals, that it could be so hot, bring more food, and leave the fuel belt at home.
Question 7 was, “What would you do differently next time?”
No one said they would go to the pasta dinner! I’ve never been. Is it really that crowded or the food that bad? No one said they would go out faster, which is smart. 14 people said they would go out slower next time.
This question drew six comments:
“Not live in arctic weather patterns” – must be a New Englanda!
“Run Faster” – I think we’d all like to do that!
“Not run a 50 mile race two weeks before Boston” – agreed.
“I ran the exact race I planned to run the past two years” – very impressive.
“Not get injured the month before” – every runner’s nightmare. We all get a little crazy in the weeks leading up to the marathon. One night, as a car approached, I actually thought for a moment that it would be better to get hit by the approaching car than twist an ankle on the sidewalk. Ca-razy. I stopped running at night after that evening.
“Train in Florida” – sign me up. I ran in 2012 when it was 85°F. This year I think we hit 70°F. It was hot, but not in the biblical sense.
Questions 8, “Did you hit the Wall?”
24 – No – Smooth running the entire way
9 – Yes – at Mile 20
We received 19 responses on this one ranging from mile 6 to mile 24. 9 people hit the wall between miles 14 & 18, 6 people hit the wall between miles 21 & 24. The person who hit the wall at mile 6 had run Boston three times previously. I think the heat surprised a lot of us. We also had a cold and prolonged winter this year.
Questions 9 & 10 were the demographics we discussed in the first part of this article.
So there you have it. It’s been almost a month since the 2014 Boston Marathon. I hope everyone is recovered and looking forward to a long enjoyable summer of running.
Run well my friends!
© anagelin 2014