Canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and then postponed to October 2021 for the same reasons, the world’s most prestigious marathon will regain its festive atmosphere on Monday morning, Patriots’ Day in the United States. Around 30,000 runners start in the small town of Hopkinton west of Boston.
Three Canadian marathoners who competed in last summer’s Olympic Games will be competing for the first time in their careers. Malindi Elmore, 9th at the Games, Natasha Wodak, 13th, and Trevor Hofbauer, 48th, are among the invited elite runners.
I can’t wait to be there and, more importantly, to be back at a popular event, Hofbauer confides to Radio-Canada Sports. It’s exciting for me, but also for the thousands of runners and spectators along the route. With the hygiene measures lifted, the power on the circuits is truly electric. For me, the louder it screams, the faster I drive.
For elite marathoners, the Boston event is one of the most prestigious after the Olympics. The announced pelotons are particularly strong this year for both men and women.
The top 11 registered runners have achieved personal bests under the 2h 6min mark and 7 of the last 8 winners should be there. Among the women, who start a few minutes after the men, 13 runners have already covered the distance under the 2:23 minute mark.
Malindi Elmore, she arrives in the city of the Bruins with a personal best of 2h 24min 50s set at the 2020 Houston Marathon. At 42, she is aiming for a place in the top 10, as she did in Sapporo last August.
If nothing compares to the pride of representing their country at the Olympics, the quality of the peloton will be no less than the last few games.
It’s very tough and it will be just as difficult to get in the top 10 in Boston as it was in Sapporo, she said. It is my goal. I don’t have time on my mind but I just want to be at the front of the race for as long as possible.
While the forecast temperature of between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius will be significantly more favorable for the athletes than the Japanese humidity and heat, it is difficult to predict what the winning times will be like.
The Boston course is trending east in a straight line with a slight negative slope. This means that if the riders have a headwind at the start, they practically have it all the way to the finish. The opposite is also true.
The first few kilometers downhill can also play a trick on first-time runners. Trevor Hofbauer, of a calm and easygoing nature, is not overly concerned about time.
h 7min et que je suis plus loin au classement, je vais être heureux aussi. Je veux juste faire de mon mieux.”,”text”:”Ce sera l’un des pelotons les plus forts de l’histoire du marathon de Boston et j’ai simplement hâte de me frotter à ces coureurs d’exception et de voir où je me situe par rapport à eux, explique le coureur de 30 ans. J’aimerais terminer parmi les dix premiers, mais si je cours la distance en 2h 7min et que je suis plus loin au classement, je vais être heureux aussi. Je veux juste faire de mon mieux.”}}”>“This will be one of the strongest fields in Boston Marathon history and I can’t wait to compete against these exceptional runners and see how I do against them,” said the 30-year-old runner. I want to be in the top 10. But if I run the distance in 2h 7min and am lower in the overall standings, I’m happy too. I just want to do my best.
Hofbauer set his best time at the 2019 Toronto Marathon with a time of 2:09:50, 25 seconds behind Cameron Levins’ national record.
You have to respect the route as it gradually descends and then climbs to Heartbreak Hill (around the 32nd kilometer) and be patient, adds Malindi Elmore. I’ve mostly run flat marathons in my life. But since training in the Okanagan Valley, I’ve become used to rough terrain. I just hope the slopes are less steep than the ones I train on.
Hofbauer also trains in the same region. He moved from Calgary in recent months to settle down. He starts studying psychology in September with the aim of becoming a primary school teacher.
Well deserved breaks after games
The Olympic fortunes of Malindi Elmore and Trevor Hofbauer ended very differently last summer. When Elmore left Sapporo in 9th place with a smile on his face, Hofbauer described himself on the Radio-Canada Sports mic as a broken man after finishing 48th in pain.
Broken-voiced, shaken by the intense emotions a marathon can evoke, but most of all by the postponed grief for his grandmother, who died just days before he left for Japan, Hofbauer had openly confided that he needed to return home to to be with him family.
He put away his pair of shoes for two long months, the time to take care of his sanity. No, he insists, it wasn’t the kind of post-Olympic depression common among athletes.
He just needed time to mourn a loved one. Time has arranged things and he feels much better today.
I didn’t run once until mid-October, and I never thought about running, says the naturally reserved marathon runner. I played golf, I spent time with my friends and family. I was just a normal person and that was fine. When I’m away from the sport, I don’t talk about it and I don’t think about it. I was just alive.
It’s in his personality to have the ability to quench or reignite the flame and his devotion to his sport. When he felt it was time to get back into training, he happily did so with his first Boston Marathon in mind.
All races are important to me because it’s my passion, my job and the reason I get up in the morning, but Boston is one of the most prestigious races, he says. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate. I want to take advantage and come home and say I raced in Boston because that’s big business for a lot of people.
Malindi Elmore had planned to run a marathon in December, but realized her body needed a break.
With her coaching job and her two children at home, she had to give up training.
I was really excited to get back to training after a few weeks off, but I had a few minor injuries, she says. My body couldn’t immediately handle the workload required to do well in a marathon.
My preparation was different than for the Tokyo games, but I’ve had the best training of my life and I’m very consistent along the way, adds Elmore. I’ve had ups and downs, I’ve been a bit sick, my kids have had their little winter illnesses, but I’m happy to be in good shape.
Especially since the 2022 event marks the 50th anniversary of the first female participation in this legendary event. In addition, Valerie Rogoskeske, one of the eight participants from 1972, will be back at the start on Monday.
“I’m truly grateful to have this opportunity to race with the best in the world and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the presence of women in Boston,” concludes Elmore. Such occasions are not to be taken for granted.
Especially not in times of a pandemic.
Her husband and trainer Graham Hood will not be able to accompany her to Boston to live her dream as he has contracted COVID-19 in the past few days.
She is self-isolating and crossing her fingers she tests negative before flying to the United States.
If you’re reading these lines, it’s because she went to Boston. Further proof that in top-level sport after 2019, getting to the starting line is sometimes the hardest part.
Even a marathon, that’s saying something.