Boston Marathon 2014: What’s New and Where to Watch

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Posted April 12, 2014 by Lindsey Daniels in Downtown Boston
Boston Marathon Finish Line

Already a world-class sporting event that draws thousands of spectators, the Boston Marathon in 2014 offers the city a unique chance to heal from the 2013 Marathon Bombings and honor its community with love. If you’re hoping to grab a nice spot to lend your support, here’s what to expect in 2014.

What’s different in 2014

The Boston Athletic Association is expecting that more viewers than usual will flock to the 26-mile route to show support for the runners and the Boston Strong movement. This year’s race ushers in a slew of policies designed to protect athletes and viewers.

For starters, Newbury Street will be closed to traffic from Arlington Street to Massachusetts Avenue for the first time. This will be a pedestrian only zone.

Not surprisingly, the BAA is staffing the entire marathon route with greater security presence, and spectators may need to pass through security checkpoints to enter the marathon viewing area and have bags or other belongings screened. The BAA recommends that spectators take any personal belongings in a plastic bag, since this will speed up the screening process. While the BAA is discouraging viewers from bringing anything that is (or could be used as) a weapon, they’re also warning against several more common and purportedly harmless items. If you plan to watch the marathon, make your life easier by leaving any bulky items, packages, backpacks, suitcases, blankets, sleeping bags, glass bottles, cans, or anything that can hold more than 1 oz. of liquid.

The BAA publishes start times for different race groups, with estimated arrival times to race landmarks, so use this information to plan your day if you’re watching in support of a friend who is running. Marathon runners can also register with AT&T to send texts along the way to friends and family, so this can be a convenient way to stay updated on race day. For this year’s race, the fami;y meeting area has been extended to Boston Common. No matter where you plan to watch the race, leave yourself extra time to get situated since there will be more delays due to heightened security and greater interest.

Best spots to watch the 2014 Boston Marathon

Some spots along the marathon route certainly offer a better view than others, and some are a little more ingrained in the marathon mystique than others. Consider these spots to show your pride this year:

  • Heartbreak Hill – Chestnut Hill’s Heartbreak Hill is famous for a reason: It falls at the 20 mile mark of the race, when runners are exhausting their energy reserves after climbing three other Newton hills and digging deep for the finish. It’s also near Boston College and draws a good crowd of enthusiastic students. Lend your voice to the chorus.
  • Kenmore Square

    Watch and support runners around Kenmore Square. Photo Credit: Henry Han

    Kenmore Square – The combination of Sox fans plus Marathoners plus B.U. students can be quite intense, so if you are looking for a way to really let loose and show your support, park yourself in the Kenmore area.

  • Finish line – The excitement and enthusiasm near the finish line is incomparable. If you’re willing to tolerate the extra security and the crowds, give this a try.
  • Route-side Restaurant – One popular strategy is to eat at a restaurant along Boylston Street or Comm. Ave and get a nice view of the race without standing shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers. Spots to consider include Eastern Standard, Cactus Club, and Solas.

If you decide to view the 2014 Boston Marathon downtown, you’re strongly advised to take public transportation to your preferred viewing spot. If you’re coming from out of town for the event, book a hotel room in the Back Bay neighborhood to stay close to the action. Parking is extremely limited in Back Bay, and road closures plus traffic congestion make it challenging to drive close to the race route.

The city doesn’t want the atmosphere to feel like a police state. They are looking to keep it as family friendly as it has always been, while controlling the expected crush of spectators in the safest possible manner. Do your part by following the new guidleines when you head down to watch, and it should be a great Patriots Day.


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