Race Guide: spectating the Boston Marathon (Part I)



Your spouse has earned their unicorn BQ?! CONGRATULATIONS! That is amazing! Running Boston is something no one can take away from you. You can tell your kids their mom or dad was a Boston marathoner and that is awesome!

A weekend in Boston for the marathon and Patriot’s day is such an experience. I hope you and your runner soak it all in! Because Boston is a point-to-point race, spectating can be very difficult and you need to be prepared. The city is crowded, there are police everywhere, especially near the finish line, and the weather is unpredictable.

The Boston Athletic Association’s website does have a spectator’s guide. Print out the maps, download the MBTA Transit app on your phone and bring a portable phone charger because it is a LONG day. Do not expect to be able to use your car on Marathon Monday.

First things first, there are essentially four ways to spectate the race:

  • Take public transportation (“The T”) out towards Newton, before the hills start, and then meet at a planned spot beyond the finish line.
  • Stay around/at finish line for the day
  • Find a spot elsewhere on the course, avoiding the mass crowds near the finish line
  • Take the T out and book it back to near the finish line

I will break down the entire day in Part II’s blog post for more information about getting your athlete on the bus, how to time out your morning and the mistakes I made that I would want you to avoid!

For now, let’s break down each spectating approach:

Option 1-Multiple spectating spots: See the helpful map below. You can take the Green line D out to Woodland and find a spot between miles 16 and 17.5. Once your runner passes, be ready to pack back into the T like sardines and take the Green line back towards the finish, getting off at Kenmore or Hynes and making your way to your planned meeting spot. *This would be the most walking overall.

Option 2-Find a restaurant to watch the marathon from or a spot near the finish line to camp out for the day. You will want all of your essentials packed with you so you don’t give up your spot. Restaurants all have their own processes for race day so be sure to check things out before you make your plans!

Option 3- I know some people walk the course from the finish line and go between miles 23 and 24. This is a nice way to avoid the crowds but you still would want to get there early (to avoid the finish line crowds)

Option 4-I’ve hear a lot of spectators go to Cleveland Circle which is soon after Heartbreak Hill. Stay on the left side of the course and take the Green Line back to Hynes and find your runner at your spot. This option would be a lot of waiting up front for your runner and then booking it back to the finish.


  • boston bus map

General tips:

  • Download the MBTA app that will allow you to track the time of the T arrivals and see the maps
  • Print out the BAA provided maps
  • Make your planned meeting spot away from the finish line. Jon and I chose a statue that was within the Boston Commons, near the corner of Boylston and Arlington as our meeting point.

What is your approach to spectating Boston? I would love to hear from you! Please share any tips below in the comments.



P.S. Here is a list of spectating spots I came across during my initial preparation:

Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail

Mile 3.7: Ashland
Mile 6.6: Framingham
Mile 8: West Natick
Mile 10: Natick
Mile 13.4: Wellesley Square
Mile 14.4: Wellesley Hills
Mile 15.5: Wellesley Farms

Green D Line
Mile 16.8: Woodland

Green B Line
Mile 21.4: Boston College

Green C Line
Miles 22.4-25: Cleveland Circle

Green B,C,D Lines
Mile 25.2: Kenmore
Mile 25.5: Hynes Convention Center


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