HOPKINTON — Mother Nature was particularly unkind to the nearly 30,000 runners taking part in the 122nd Boston Marathon Monday.
With temperatures barely above freezing at the Athletes’ Village in Hopkinton, and the rain and wind adding to the discomfort, runners faced a much more daunting task than just the 26.2 miles they were about to cover.
Runners arriving in buses quickly made their way toward the tents for coffee and hot chocolate. The sound of ice sliding off the top of the tents onto the ground, along with the visible breath of the athletes and volunteers, made it seem like a morning in early March rather than mid April.
But Aaron Fraley, who was one of the first runners to arrive at the starting line and was competing in his first Boston Marathon, felt prepared for the weather.
“The good thing about [the Marathon] is that it is in April, so part of your training is through the winter,” said Fraley, who is from Dayton, Ohio. “You get to run through the months of January and February, which aren’t pleasant months.
“You train through all the weather, you get that broad spectrum there of plus or minus 30 degrees, so it is not a shocker to be here and have ice on the ground. It is just not pleasant to have ice on the ground.”
Renee Kripplebauer, also competing in her first Boston Marathon, came fully prepared with a blanket. But not having faced these conditions, she went with her gut on what to wear.
“I am kind of winging it,” said Kripplebauer, who is from Bellefonte, Pa. “I went with some waterproof and wind-resistant things and hope I don’t overheat and hope I am not too cold.”
A lot of runners shifted their expectations because of the weather.
“As everything gets closer, you have different sets of goals,” Fraley said. “You have soft goals and you have hard goals, and a lot of times the weather can dictate which goals you actually are going to go after. There is nothing wrong with changing your goals with the situation you have.”
“I am not expecting to do it quite as fast, and just finishing I will be happy with,” said Ben Stutzman, a 19-year-old from Pennsylvania who was taking part in his first Boston Marathon. “But I think I will still be running hard. The harder I run, the warmer I’ll be, so I will try do that.”
The weather made it hard on the volunteers and race staff as well.
Larry Medolo, who has been volunteering at the starting line for 19 years, said he had never seen weather conditions this bad for the Marathon. When asked how he prepared for the ice, rain, wind, and frigid temperatures, Medolo said jokingly, “It’s just like I am shoveling the driveway.”
As the athletes began to overflow the tents as they tried to stay out of the rain, Medolo made sure runners had everything they needed to stay warm.
“You have to help them because they travel the world to be here,” Medolo said. “Just got to help them. You just have to have the positive energy to help them keep their spirits up, and pray the weather lets up for them to have a great day.”
The rain and wind wreaked havoc on the starting point of the race, toppling tents and blowing trash cans across the field. The runners who flowed into the Athletes’ Village seemed to be in disbelief about what they were about to face.Karl Capen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Capen316.