BOSTON — As if the No. 1 on her Boston Marathon bib weren’t enough for them to think about, the women trying to stop Des Linden from repeating as champion can now expect to line up in Hopkinton shivering and soaking from another New England storm.
Just like last year, when she splashed her way to Copley Square in the slowest race in 40 years and became the first U.S. woman to win Boston since 1985.
“Everyone’s like, ‘This is Des weather,’” Linden said last week as she prepared for Monday’s 123rd edition of the race. “If it might rattle them — ‘Well this is Des’ race to lose’ — if that gets in people’s head, good for me. Because it doesn’t really shake me at all.”
A year after temperatures dipped into the mid-30s and runners battled a near-gale headwind that blew a pelting rain into their faces, race organizers are again preparing for the some of the foulest weather the city has to offer.
Early forecasts called for conditions similar to 2018, when there was a record number of dropouts and Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi finished in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 58 seconds — a time that wouldn’t have been fast enough to win any race since the sweltering 1976 “Run for the Hoses.”
More recent forecasts put temperatures in the 50s and 60s, a relief for Boston Athletic Association officials concerned about mass hypothermia.
But it’s still going to be pretty nasty.
“I feel sorry for the masses out there. I don’t want to put any bad wishes on them,” said Linden, who came in second by 2 seconds in 2011 but won last year in 2:39:54 — more than 17 minutes slower.
“But if it means another chance to break the tape, I’m good with it,” she said. “Honestly, Boston in the spring: You never know what you’re going to get. So if you weren’t a little bit prepared for this, you might have missed the last 120 some odd years here.”
The B.A.A. is prepared.
Race director Dave McGillivray said organizers have adjusted some logistics, using the contingency plan they put together shortly after last year’s race.
There will be heaters in the medical tents and more buses to sweep up those who drop out along the course. The fourth wave of runners will start immediately after the third so they don’t have to stand outside for an extra 25 minutes. Handcyclists and others who could be affected by the traction have been offered a deferment into next year’s race.
“We recognized that it could happen again — maybe in the next hundred years,” race director Dave McGillivray said. “And, all of a sudden, that hundred years went by really fast. Because here we are again.”
Of course, not everyone’s complaining.
“I’m ready to roll with it,” said Sarah Sellers, who finished second to Linden last year.
“Bring it on,” said Tatyana McFadden, who won the women’s wheelchair race in 2018 for the fifth time in six years.
Kawauchi broke into a wide grin when asked about the forecasts, which could favour his ultramarathon training and relatively larger frame. A 32-year-old high school administrator and self-coached amateur known in Japan as a “citizen runner,” Kawauchi’s personal record of 2:08:14 is the 16th fastest in the field.
“I love cold, and rainy and strong winds,” he said. “I like bad weather.”
Linden, who considered dropping out in the middle of last year’s race, said she doesn’t actually like to run in an icy rain. But last year’s victory has given her the confidence that she can do it — perhaps better than anyone.
“Ideally, you get a really nice day and we go and feel good and run a PR and everyone has an awesome time,” she said. “I think the only reason that I enjoyed that weather is because I won. If I’d finished second I’d probably like, ‘I hope it’s not the same.’
“But it’s certainly something in my back pocket if it is the same. Like, ‘All right. I’m actually pretty good at this.’ So I’ll take confidence in that.”
Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press