A Spectator’s Guide to the Boston Marathon

Comprehensive Guide to the Boston Marathon

Whether you’re watching  Monday’s 119th Boston Marathon or just trying to commute around it, this legendary  event  impacts everyone in the Greater Boston Area  in some way. To  save you the trouble of figuring it all out, we’ve compiled a spectator’s guide to the Boston Marathon just for you.

Race Route and Transportation

First and foremost, be prepared for increased traffic on the MBTA, as well as bus route detours, road blocks, and additional traffic the weekend before and on Patriot’s Day itself. In preparation, the MBTA will be running rush-hour service both before and after the race. Bicycles will not be allowed on public transit day-of.


Also note that Copley Station will be closed on the 20th, along with the following aboveground Green Line stops: South St, Kent St, and St. Mary’s St. All other lines will be running their regular weekday schedule. You can view this and further information regarding transit on the MBTA’s website, as well as directions to the race’s starting and finish lines here.

For drivers, a map of road closures and parking restrictions can be found here, and a full map of the Marathon’s course can be found here. Keep in mind that MBTA parking garages will be cash only on Marathon Monday. Drivers should also check out the city’s traffic advisory before heading into the city.

Security Measures

This year the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has released a set of guidelines for any spectators attending the Marathon. First and foremost, spectators should expect uniformed and plainclothes policemen to be stationed along the route. As you approach the course, you may be asked to pass through security checkpoints or have your bag searched by police officers or contracted private security personnel. Additionally, spectators along the entire race route (including Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston) are strongly encouraged to keep their belongings in clear plastic bags to promote safety and speed up security procedures. You should also be sure to keep all your belongings in your possession at all times.

Below is a list of items not allowed at this year’s Marathon. For more information on spectator guidelines and information, you can visit the B.A.A. page.


This year, due to increased security, the B.A.A. is cracking down on “bandit” or unauthorized runners. Anyone without a bib on any part of the course will be subject to interdiction.

Watching the Race

If you don’t want to miss a beat, below are start times for the entire duration of the race:

  • Mobility impaired: 8:50 a.m. (20)
  • Wheelchair division: 9:17 a.m.
  • Handcycles: 9:22 a.m.
  • Elite women: 9:32 a.m.
  • Elite men and wave one: 10:00 a.m.
  • Wave two: 10:25 a.m.
  • Wave three: 11:00 a.m.
  • Wave four: 11:25 a.m.

For suggestions of ideal spots to watch the race, check out this list that WBUR compiled, covering everything from the finish line to the medical tent. For the more Bacchanalian spectator, Boston Magazine put together a list of the best places along the route to eat and drink, along with a list of events happening this weekend throughout the city.

For those of you who can’t watch the race in person on Monday, keep an eye on the event with a live feed on BAA.org and this interactive map, which compiles tweets and instagram posts along the 26.2 mile route. WBZ-TV will also have live coverage of the race throughout the day. Keeping track of runners is simple as well! You can either text their bib number to 345678, which will then send text notifications once your runner has reached 10K, 13.1 mile, and 30K marks and when they cross the finish line. The Boston Marathon app (for both Apple and Android) allows you to track up to ten runners and customize which marker updates you receive.

Enjoy the race, everyone, and above all: stay safe!


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