Recent editions of the Boston Marathon have all had their moments. The 2022 race was a triumphant return to a full Patriots Day field (2020 was virtual, 2021 was rescheduled), and 2018 brought severe weather that threw the elite racers into disarray and tested every competitor at new levels.
But no recent race has been quite like this one.
The 2023 Boston Marathon features one of the most impressive elite fields in the race’s history. On the women’s side, Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso leads a group of five with personal bests under 2:18 — the course record is 2:19:59 — along with three former champions.
The men will be led by the incomparable Eliud Kipchoge — the greatest marathoner in history by performance, accolades, and any other measure — for the first time as he looks to tick one more item off his bucket list for 26.2 miles.
And as the world’s best go to work on the roads, they’ll do so 10 years after one of Boston’s most harrowing days, when two bombs were detonated at the finish line on Boylston Street in 2013, killing three people and wounding hundreds.
The remembrance events have been scheduled, the bibs printed, and the plans laid for the biggest day on Boston’s sporting calendar. Here’s everything you need to know.
Date and how to watch
Date: Monday, April 17
TV: WCVB (Channel 5) and ESPN
Streaming: WCVB, Very Local Boston
Entry list: Have a friend or family member running? Search the field of runners here.
The race is back to more typical start times and will have the usual wave starts. In 2021, runners were released on a rolling basis, based on bib numbers and qualifying times.
9:02 a.m.: Men’s wheelchair
9:05 a.m.: Women’s wheelchair
9:30 a.m.: Handcycles and duos
9:37 a.m.: Elite men
9:47 a.m.: Elite women
9:50 a.m.: Para athletics divisions
10 a.m.: Wave 1
10:25 a.m.: Wave 2
10:50 a.m.: Wave 3
11:15 a.m.: Wave 4
Participants will follow Route 135 from Main Street in Hopkinton and wind through Ashland, Framingham, and Natick, then into Wellesley.
The marathon continues on Route 16 through Wellesley into Newton, where it turns right onto Commonwealth Avenue (Route 30) through the Newton Hills and bearing right at the reservoir onto Chestnut Hill Avenue.
The route then turns left on Beacon Street, continuing into Kenmore Square before rejoining Commonwealth Avenue into the city. The final stretch includes the iconic right turn onto Hereford Street and left onto Boylston Street before finishing near the Hancock Tower in Copley Square.
There is no bigger headliner in distance running than Eliud Kipchoge. The accolades speak for themselves: two Olympic gold medals, a world record — 2:01:09 — that once seemed unthinkable, dominance at every major marathon outside of New York and Boston, four of the six fastest performances in history, and a mind-boggling run of 1:59:40 at a special event in Vienna in 2019 that doesn’t count for record purposes.
Kipchoge has long been the BAA’s biggest prize for its marquee race (getting his name on the dotted line was nicknamed “Project Eagle” internally), and he finally is scheduled to answer the gun in Hopkinton.
Even for the most dominant marathoner in history, this is no gimme. He’ll have six men with personal bests better than 2:05 for company, including a pair of 2:03:00 performers in defending champion Evans Chebet and Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay. Former winners Lelisa Desisa and Benson Kipruto will be tough outs, too.
In 2019, the fastest entrant for the women’s elite race was Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia with a personal best of 2:19:31. In 2023, eight women will hit the road in Hopkinton boasting better marks than that, led by Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso, whose stunning run in Valencia in December made her the third-fastest woman in history at 2:14:58. Three former women’s champions return: American Des Linden, Ethiopian Atsede Baysa, and the timeless Edna Kiplagat.
America’s Daniel Romanchuk and Switzerland’s Marcel Hug have won each of the last seven men’s wheelchair races and will be the favorites this year, too. Ten-time winner Ernst Van Dyk, dominant on this course from 2001-14, will race Boston for the final time at age 50.
Tatyana McFadden and Manuela Schär have held an even stronger American-Swiss duopoly over the women’s wheelchair division, sharing the last nine titles between them. The two will be challenged by Susannah Scaroni, the fastest entrant in the field.
Last year’s race
The elite races were a Kenyan domination in 2022, with the East African nation sweeping the open divisions for the first time in a decade. Evans Chebet made it look easy in the men’s race, winning by more than 30 seconds; three of his compatriots rounded out the top five.
Peres Jepchichir capped off a sensational marathoning triple — winning Olympic gold, the New York City Marathon, and Boston in the space of eight months — in more difficult fashion, claiming an elbow-to-elbow showdown over Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh in the final blocks of the women’s race after eight lead changes in the last mile.
Romanchuk and Schär coasted to wins in the men’s and women’s wheelchair divisions, both finishing at least five minutes ahead of the field.
By the numbers
12 — For the second year in a row, 12 former champions are back in the field.
88.2 — Kipchoge has won 88.2 percent of his marathons — 15 of 17 — in his illustrious career.
24.5 — The original Boston Marathon was 24.5 miles, from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to Back Bay, in 1897.
9 — Nine women in the field have personal bests faster than the women’s open division course record, which may be under serious threat.
2:03:02 — The men’s open division course record is 2:03:02, set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2011. Kipchoge has beaten that mark in four official marathons over his career.
There are 42 charitable organizations represented by runners. Over the past 32 years, more than $400 million has been raised for charity.
Grand Marshal and official starters
The Grand Marshal will be a very familiar face. Red Sox legend David Ortiz, whose rousing speech at Fenway Park in the aftermath of the bombings in 2013 became an iconic moment, will lead the way from Hopinkton to Back Bay.
The Boston Marathon will have a separate division for non-binary athletes for the first time. Without enough data to establish separate qualifying standards for a non-binary division, the BAA used the women’s qualifying standards, as they are inclusive of both divisions. Athletes who successfully made the cut during the previous qualifying window as a non-binary athlete were eligible to submit an entry this year.
Expo and bib pickup
Athletic brands, companies, and other exhibitors will fill the Hynes Convention Center for three days to display, promote, discuss, and sell their products. The expo also features running seminars and presentations, guest appearances, and other activities.
Race bibs can also be picked up during the Expo.
▪ Friday, April 14, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
▪ Saturday, April 15, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
▪ Sunday, April 16, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Check out Copley Square for appearances from Boston champions, activities, live music, photo ops, and more.
▪ Friday, April 14, 12-8 p.m.
▪ Saturday, April 15, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
▪ Sunday, April 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Boston Marathon Run Pub
This marathon-themed beer garden provides a place to relax and unwind, right by the finish line at the corner of Boylston Street and Dartmouth Street by Copley Square Park. Along with games and drinks, the Run Pub will feature athlete meet-and-greets throughout the weekend.
▪ Friday, April 14, 3-10 p.m.
▪ Saturday, April 15, 12 p.m.-10 p.m.
▪ Sunday, April 16, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
|Eliud Kipchoge||Kenya||2:01:09 WR|
|Gabriel Geay||Tanzania||2:03:00 NR|
|Amane Beriso||Ethiopia||2:14:58 NR|
|Marcel Hug^||Switzerland||1:17:47 WR|
|Ernst van Dyk^||South Africa||1:18:04|
|Aaron Pike||United States||1:20:02|
|Johnboy Smith||Great Britain||1:20:05|
|Susannah Scaroni||United States||1:27:31|
|Manuela Schär^||Switzerland||1:28:17 (CR)|
|Madison de Rozario||Australia||1:31:11|
|Tatyana McFadden^||United States||1:31:30|
|Jenna Fesemyer||United States||1:33:50|
Amin Touri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.