In exclusive interview, Level Renner was able to get a rarely granted sit-down interview with Louise Belcher, the BAA’s weekend public relations director. Belcher really warmed up to the opportunity she had to speak directly to area runners and gave us a sneak peek at the very radical changes coming for the 2018 edition of the Boston Marathon. Most of them are logistical in nature, but still mark a stark contrast when compared to past policy.
Scream Tunnel Lottery
As iconic as the Scream Tunnel by Wellesley College is, the crowds have become overwhelming in recent years. The BAA worked very closely with the town of Wellesley and the administration at Wellesley College to develop this new, controversial policy. “Not only has the sheer number of people been difficult to contain, but the combined decibel level of the Screamers has threatened to burst ear drums of runners approaching the halfway mark,” said Belcher. Due to overwhelming demands and security concerns, there will now be a lottery to determine who can spectate along the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. Any spectator can submit an application, with a registration fee $50. Spectators who have met the following requirements (in the last 18 months) can bypass the lottery and secure a spot on the elite spectator sidewalk:
- Attend Wellesley college
- Cheered at a marathon for longer than 4 hrs
- Made a sign demonstrating humor and/or wit
- Kissed at least one stranger at a race of any distance
- Have screamed at a certified pitch for a nearby runner
For all of these requirements, social media proof will be required unless a certified official was present to witness the achievement. Official Screamers will get a t-shirt, a cowbell and the opportunity to buy a pitch-perfect jacket for $120.
This change is long overdue, and according to Belcher would drastically cut down on complaints received by her office. “The people want to take selfies, and we need to let them.” The far left side of the course, all 26.2 miles of it, will be dedicated for selfie-takers and anybody else who wants to update their social media accounts. MySpace users will be forcibly removed from the course and sent to a re-education center.
Every 10k along the route will feature the official Verizon Rapid Recharge booth, offering options for runners to recharge not only their own batteries, but those of their smartphones. “Along with various gels and light snacks, we’ll have cordless charging pads where runners will be welcome to spend as much time as they want recharging those cell phones. We wouldn’t want them to miss out on chances to take selfies with each mile marker.”
Additional Pace Groups Added
Pace groups are so popular at marathons now that the BAA has decided to take it a step further and have groups for various injuries. “You know what you can run healthy, but do you know how to pace yourself if you’re nursing a sore set of glutes on race day?” Look for the guy holding the sign most applicable to your current ailment. Group options include (but are not limited to): Achilles strain, IT Band, Runner’s Knee, Post-Tib, Hip Flexor, Hip Labrum, High Hamstring, and finally, the Explosive Diarhea Due to a Poor Choice in Pre-Race Nutrition. The latter has really tiny font to be able to fit it all on the standard sign, so please check the signs very carefully. Anybody eating Thai food on a whim the night before should really consider joining this group.
Eliminate Suspicious Qualifiers
The BAA has finally decided to team up with the NSA to track marathon cheating. Inspired by the fine work over at marathoninvestigation.com, race officials have pledged to take more of a hardline when it comes to people looking to shave some distance (and a whole lot of time) off of their qualifying races. On weekends during peak BQ marathon time (spring/fall), the NSA will divert spy satellites and other observational assets to marathon race courses around the country in hopes of catching cheaters. “We’ve been able to monitor GPS watch info for years now, and by also utilizing the satellites we’ll really be able to lock in on any anomalies and can follow up on any questionable results in real time,” said Louise.
Don’t think social media accounts will be the only way for investigators to zero in on potential cheaters. “If they start running at 11:00 and we see activity on their Uber account at 12:30, we’ll know something is up,” said Belcher.
To reduce the carbon footprint of the race, clear up finish area congestion and limit the amount of gear to be shifted around on race weekend, the BAA will hand out the medals to the runners when they pick up their bibs. The catch: they have to run the race in it.
“People are already wearing the jackets fairly early, which is great exposure for us, so why not take full advantage of that and get the medals into public circulation earlier?” For those who do finish, you’d have the option to get the medal engraved with your time right in Copley Square. As far as the volunteers go, don’t worry about them; they haven’t been put out of a job. They’ve been re-trained to give you a high-5, and possibly even a hug (depending on your BO situation) just after you finish.
The downside: BAA will have people out on the course collecting the medals back from whoever does not finish. No matter the reason, if you don’t finish then you’ll be expected to hand over the medal. If drop out and want to take the shuttle back in, the medal is the price of admission.
For those who don’t even show up to the race, expect a knock on your door by specially trained medal retrieval specialists. This BAA goon squad, or Goonicorns as they are affectionately referred to internally, will track you down and get that unearned medal back. “We’re in talks with A&E to turn the finisher medal repo process into a reality show. It’d draw inspiration from such American classics as ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’, ‘Parking Wars’ and ‘American Ninja Warrior’.”
Before you start inundating the BAA with questions, comments, concerns, please sit back and check your calendar. As great as some of these ideas may be, they are definitely not based in reality.