Katherine McCabe / Gavel Media

An Underclassman's Guide to Marathon Monday

With the early closure of colleges nationwide in the spring of 2020, and continued Covid-19 restrictions lasting into the Spring of 2021, college students throughout the Boston area missed out on one of the city's most celebrated traditions: the Boston Marathon. 

The 2020 race was postponed to a fall date as a result of the rapid spread of Covid-19 and was eventually canceled due to its continued threat.  The 2021 marathon was subsequently postponed to a fall date due to the same concerns, and will now be run on Monday, Oct. 11. The most recent Boston Marathon was run in the spring of 2019, nearly two-and-a-half years ago. Consequently, the only undergraduate students on Boston campuses to have experienced a fabled Marathon Monday are this year’s seniors.  

It might shock Boston College alumni to hear juniors around campus asking, “So what exactly are we supposed to do for the marathon?”  Nevertheless, this has been the case. With the marathon running right down Commonwealth Ave and the day off from classes, some might go as far as to say Marathon Monday is one of BC’s greatest holidays. It is an event that brings our community together. With that being said, the day is admittedly quite chaotic and can be overwhelming if unprepared or without any idea of what to expect.  

With this in mind, a handful of BC alumni have sent The Gavel some things you can expect on race day, some of the best advice they could think to offer on how to handle it, and some of their own favorite memories from their time as undergrads.  

 

Prepare for the day

While some might argue Marathon Monday is one of the most fun days of the year, it can be draining. “Some degree of forward-thinking is required,” Anton Aguila, MCAS ‘21, said. “One does not simply go on a three-night bender and expect to be ready come Monday morning.”  

“Get a good night’s sleep the night before and expect to wake up early the day of, like extra early...we’re talking sun isn’t even up yet early,” said Madison Polkowitz, MCAS ‘19.  Many alumni suggest beginning preparations the night before.  “Drink plenty of water the night before and when you wake up - trust me, you’ll thank yourself later,” said Polkowitz.  

It is also wise to have food at the ready.  Nicole Chan, MCAS ‘20 said, “Go to Dunkin' the night before and grab a box of coffee and bagels. This will make that 6 a.m. wakeup worth it and carry you through the day.”  

 

Check the weather and have a plan

Many of the more recent marathons have been hit by heavy rain, but that doesn’t stop the runners nor should it stop you. On the other hand, skies could be clear and the sun could be beaming, so make sure to come prepared. “Nothing is worse than being freezing cold and soaking wet from rain or unprotected and sunburnt,” Polkowitz said. 

“Eat a big breakfast and wear comfortable shoes,” Ellen Gerst, MCAS ‘20, advised. 

“Know your route,” Aguila said. “Whether you’re hitting off campus before dashing across the barricades or hopping through the mods, a sense of direction is helpful. Have an idea of where you’re going.”  

“Share your phone’s location with your friends,” adds Gerst. The day can get particularly chaotic and it is easy to get separated from your friends, especially off-campus.  

 

Get where you want to be

One of the most common questions people ask, especially first-time marathon experiencers—currently a majority of campus—is, “where do I go?”  

Hoping to go to the Mods?  Similar to tailgating, you’ll have to be 21, as there will likely be an ID check at the gates.  Most BC students make their way off-campus.  Whatever you choose, it’s important to get there early.

“The early morning leading up to the race is a lot of fun—it can be great to bounce around, see friends, and go with the flow,” Jill Cusick, MCAS ‘20, said.  “Once the runners start going by,” though, “make sure you pick a side of the street—either the Main Campus side or the other side with access to off-campus neighborhoods and Newton Campus. You likely won’t be able to cross the street for a while, so if you’re hoping to hit Lower at 11 a.m., you don’t want to be stuck.”

“As an underclassman, make sure to wake up early and cross Comm Ave before the marathon starts. You’ll have way more fun roaming through Foster, Kirkwood, Greycliff and beyond than you would staying near campus,” suggests Mariah Belisle, CSOM ‘20.  Also, it isn’t impossible to cross Comm Ave in the middle of the race.  “I successfully crossed while wearing an umbrella hat my freshman year without getting stopped. Anything is possible on Marathon Monday!” Belisle said.  

However, you don’t want to interfere with any runners, and there are generally police officers along the route making sure spectators aren’t wantonly crossing in the paths of the runners.  “Respect the runners!” says Tara Coffey, MCAS ‘20, “We love them and they love us—don't get in their way and don't heckle them!” 

Jason Rothstein, CSOM ‘19, advised upperclassmen to embrace the communal aspect of Marathon Monday.  “Juniors and seniors, hopefully you’ll be able to have fun and bring people together in your respective homes to celebrate. Be sure to give a few wandering freshmen a warm welcome. I know you’ve been in their shoes before.” Rothstein reminds us that Marathon Monday is a day that brings Boston together, and strengthens the bonds and sense of community that so many BC students and alumni hold dear to their hearts. On top of that, it is an opportunity to foster social connections that students have missed out on for almost two years now.  

 

Actually watch the marathon!

As the day wears on and the sun gets high in the sky, you may get sucked into the crowded backyards of off-campus houses and roaming the streets of Gerald and Foster.  Remember that there’s a marathon being run just up the road. Make an effort to go watch.

“It’s easier than you think to forget about the actual marathon on Marathon Monday, but make sure to watch the race at least a little bit,” said Gerst, “Scream your lungs out for complete strangers who’ve been running for 21 miles. And then go home and go to bed.”

Furthermore, don’t be discouraged if the day doesn’t go exactly as planned. Anything can happen on Marathon Monday, and often those who persevere through the day have some of the best memories.

Luke Bryan, MCAS December ‘21 fondly recalled his first experience with the Boston Marathon:

So my freshman year, Marathon Monday was a rough day. Even when I left Newton at 6:30 a.m., it was already pouring rain and winds were picking up. Later when the runners came, I was at the top of Heartbreak Hill and it was amazing. For the 2 to 3 hours I was out there, people lined the entire road, even though the weather was really nasty. And getting to watch the runners was really motivational. Getting to watch thousands of people succeed in that test of endurance helped inspire me to run my first marathon.

Since that day, he has run two marathons. 

 

Take care of yourself

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Make sure you’re taking care of yourself throughout the day because it’s going to be a long one.  Without hydrating throughout the day, most students are unlikely to make it through the day, Aguila said. “Pacing is crucial…by all means start strong, but you don’t want to be collapsing face down onto some rotten couch in some randos house on Gerald at noon. That’d be actually foul.”  

Coffey further emphasized the point, saying, “Eat before you start drinking and try to get food as soon as you feel yourself start to get slightly hungry. The lines at Lower and Pelon are always wicked long and you don't want to get caught there when you're already starving.”

 

Everyone’s Marathon Monday is different, so enjoy it

Ultimately, the day is what you make of it.  “Just make sure to enjoy the day. Between the early wake-up call and the hectic environment surrounding the marathon route itself, it can be easy to get caught up among the festivities,” said Partick Carpenter, MCAS ‘20. “Don’t spend too much energy worrying about getting to the wildest off-campus house or the most crowded room in Walsh. The party will be going on everywhere.” 

"Wake up whenever you feel like it. Don't feel peer pressured to wake up at the crack of dawn to drink and run around like a pack of animals,” Jinoo Song, MCAS ‘20, said. “You will only have as much fun as the level of energy you have.”

Coffey drove home the point, saying, “I woke up at 8 a.m. for all three of my Marathon Mondays and I still had an awesome time, was just as drunk as everyone else, and wasn't falling asleep at 2 like some of my friends.”

Marathon Monday is what you make of it.  Be flexible, and don’t feel the need to overdo it.  With that being said, it’s ok to get out of your comfort zone and take part in the festivities. Marathon Monday is a truly unique experience that only Boston students get to experience. If it doesn’t go just as you hoped, there’s another one right around the corner this spring.

But don’t worry, Carpenter said, “Marathon Monday will live up to its reputation.” 

I firmly believe that the entirety of Big Mouth can and should be watched in a single night. You can sleep when you’re dead. Still bitter about Lil Dicky postponing his tour.

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