Boston 2016: Sneaky Heat

by EJN Comments (2) Articles, Commentary

Sneaky heat seems like a good way of describing the conditions at the 2016 Boston Marathon. To those running it sure wasn’t sneaky, but to the casual observer they might not quite have understood why the conditions were so bad. Years on down the road people might be confused looking back on this one if they’re reading about how difficult the conditions were and see that temps were only in the 60’s.

But obviously we just hadn’t had a chance to adjust to the warmer temps yet as conditions in the region had been on the chilly side, to say the least. We just haven’t been able to put away the cold weather gear yet! And Marathon Monday was a perfect example of just how wild the weather has been lately; at noon I was comfortably wearing shorts and a t-shirt in Newton and then two hours later I was in the Back Bay freezing my cajones off because I didn’t have a jacket with me.

But the day started out WARM. I was running on the course at 8:00 am on the hills in Newton and couldn’t believe just how hot it was. It was plain to see then that it was going to be a rough day for many.

But all this had me thinking about the last real hot Boston: 2012. That was the one where they offered deferments. Take a look at the comparison between start/finish conditions in Hopkinton and Boston:


temp/dew point/humidity 75/54/48 at the start in Hopkinton
temp/dew point/humidity 77/57/50 at the finish in Boston


temp/dew point/humidity 66/25/21 at the start in Hopkinton
temp/dew point/humidity 57/34/42 at the finish in Boston

Start/finish times are for elites, but temps obviously climbed much higher for the rest of the field in 2012. What I found interesting about that is though conditions were worse in 2012, times for the elites were slower in 2016 (for the men at least).

It’s not a very in-depth study, but seeing that 2016 winner Lemi Berhanu Haylewinning ran a time of 2:12:45, which was slower than Wesley Korir’s winning 2:12:40 in 2012 made me take a second look at results from that unforgettably hot one. Only 4 guys went sub 2:15 this year compared to 5 in 2012, while 2:23:08 earned 15th place in 2012 compared to 2:24:46 taking the same honors this year.

Zach Hine was the top American this year in 2:21:37 (10th overall!) while the top American in 2012 was Jason Hartmann’s 2:14:31. 10th place in 2012? 2:18:15.

Small sample size and there are other factors involved (and the women’s didn’t exactly follow this pattern) but interesting nonetheless. When you consider it got cooler as the race progressed, just the right factors (or wrong, depending on how you ran) were there to really make things uncomfortable for most of the field.

In case you haven’t seen, here’s a couple of handy tweets with the top New England finishers:

and the ladies…

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2 Responses to Boston 2016: Sneaky Heat

  1. SteelTownRunner says:

    >>Zach Hine was the top American this year in 2:21:37 (10th overall!) while the top American in 2012 was Jason Hartmann’s 2:14:31. 10th place in 2012? 2:18:15.

    These kinds of comments puzzle me. We all know the American field this year was pretty shallow as the good runners ran the Trials instead. That and the heat are more than enough to have slowed the times. I think many elites started slower (haven’t checked the men yet, but the women started very slowly) having seen carnage in prior hot years.

    • EJN says:

      Yeah, the way I wrote it might not have been the most clear. I mentioned Zach and his place out of excitement rather than criticism. Zach is a MA guy and if what I heard was correct, a MA guy hasn’t placed that high at Boston in about 30 years. Clearly there were factors impacting the times even beyond the heat, but Zach got 10th at Boston and it’s impressive no matter how you slice it.

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