Users of the popular activity tracking website and app Strava are likely familiar with the concept of segments. These are short sections of road, track or trail that cover a set distance in a particular direction. They are popular for spurring competition between Strava friends and ‘followers’ who strive to cover the segment in the fastest possible time and thus rewarded with a ‘course record’ (CR).
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There are literally thousands of segments on Strava in every country, city and community where users run and race. Segments can be short sprints not more than 100m while others cover several (even a hundred or more) miles. Chances are your favourite running route includes at least a segment or two, especially if it’s used by fellow runners.
Not surprisingly then, the Boston Marathon contains a number of segments (dozens in fact) along the storied course that runners use to compare their performances over shorter sections of the famous route from Hopkinton to Copley Square.
Here are a few of the more memorable Boston Marathon segments on Strava. If you happen to be running on Marathon Monday, perhaps you could decide to save your legs for when it really counts. Happy segment hunting!
Featuring more than 40m of elevation loss, this first mile can make or break your race. More than any other event, resist the urge to go out too quickly. Stick to your plan and to your pace and not get caught up in all the excitement of the start. If you do find yourself a few seconds (hopefully not more) ahead of time after just one mile, relax, refocus and try to back off into a more manageable pace.
Even if you did go out too quickly, hopefully you managed to check yourself (and your pace) and cover the first 10K comfortably. You’ll know you didn’t if you just set a 10K PB!
What goes down must come up again. You’re now more than halfway home and have hopefully regained your composure after the adrenaline rush that comes from Wellesley College. The hills of Newton are nearing but before they do, you must get through mile 16. Featuring 42m of drop over less than a single kilometre, you literally fly down the hill into Newton Lower Falls. If you’re quads aren’t already hurting, they soon will be!
The Newton Hills
Known as a hilly course, the four Newton hills start near mile 16 and continue for 8K to mile 21.
The most infamous of them all, Boston’s ‘Heartbreak Hill’ covers just less than a kilometre but begins just past the 20-mile mark of the course. It features 30m of elevation gain but also signals the final 5 miles (8K) of mostly downhill running to the finish.
“Right on Hereford, left on Boylston.” You now have just 500m to go to the finish. Fortunately it’s ever so slightly downhill. Let the crowds and that last bit of adrenaline guide you there.
This segment covers the entire 42.195K (and not one metre more) from Hopkinton to Copley Square. Don’t be surprised if your time on this segment is actually faster than your official race time, given that it’s nearly impossible to run perfect tangents. Still though, you probably shouldn’t go around bragging about how fast (Strava says) you ran the Boston Marathon.