Running

The Ultimate Insider’s Boston Marathon Weekend Guide to Everything

Eat, drink, run, cheer, repeat. Our Boston resident writers give you the scoop on how to soak up every minute of the best weekend of the year.

Whether you’re in Boston to run the marathon, watch it, or just take in all the running glory for a few days, you can stoke your inner running geek in many ways over the next few days. In fact, Boston Marathon weekend offers so many options for celebrating 26.2 miles and the sport, we thought we’d help you along with our picks on where to go and what to do.

Go eat the chowdah. Be on the lookout for Tom Brady, though we know you’d prefer a Shalane Flanagan sighting. But you, dear runnahs, are the celebs in town until the last marathoner crosses the finish line on Boylston Street. Oh, and in all the excitement don’t forget the main event: The 2019 Boston Marathon kicks off on Monday, April 15, from Hopkinton. The women’s elite race goes at 9:32 a.m.

Read on for our ultimate guide to where to eat, drink, run, and repeat in Boston.

Where to run

Castle Island

This little gem is a bit off the beaten path if you’re coming to Boston for the weekend. Most people don’t venture to South Boston or “Southie” to run because the Esplanade along the Charles River is easily accessible to the downtown hotels. Castle Island is a loop on the beaches of South Boston and takes you on a path into the water and back around. It is beautiful at sunrise and sunset, and usually busy day and night.

Harborwalk

If you’re still looking for another option for nautical scenery, head to the Harborwalk located behind the North End. The route follows the wharfs along Boston Harbor and connects you to Boston’s up-and-coming neighborhood, the Seaport.

The Fens

You can add onto a run along the river and go past Kenmore square to “The Fens.” The Fens are a small garden oasis in the middle of Fenway apartments, mostly populated by BU students. If you follow the gardens out and stay on a greenway called “The Emerald Necklace” you will make it out to Jamaica Pond which is part of the course for the BAA Half Marathon.

The Arnold Arboretum

This may be mostly a secret, even to Boston runners. You can run there from downtown Boston or just start in the arboretum. If you’re looking for some tranquility in the midst of a raucous weekend, this is your spot: the trails take you through beautiful trees, plants, and a lake. Just be prepared for the hills.

Special Events

We could even begin to list all the events going on during Boston Marathon weekend, so instead, we’re going to refer to list our top four, all specifically celebrating women’s running (duh). For a more complete list of shakeout runs, panel discussions, and opportunities to celebrate the sport, see this handy guide compiled by InsideTracker.

But remember: If you’re running the marathon, take it easy in the days leading up to Monday. If you’re aiming for a PR performance, the best “special event” is kicking your legs up and watching a few hours of Netflix while hydrating.

3 p.m. on Saturday: The Race Is On: Top Runners Talk Competition, hosted by Lindsay Crouse of the New York Times. Listen to this all-star panel discuss why and how U.S. women’s distance running has become so stacked with talent. Speakers include defending Boston Marathon champion Des Linden; 2017 New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan; 2018 Boston runner-up Sarah Sellers; 2017 U.S. marathon champion Sara Hall, second-fastest U.S. marathoner all-time Jordan Hasay, plus decorated parathlete and 17-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden; Sarah Crouch, and Lindsay Flanagan. Location: Calderwood Pavilion (South End)/ticket required

5 p.m. on Saturday: Women Behind the Mic, hosted by four of the most popular podcasters in the sport, Lindsey Hein, Carrie Tollefson, Tina Muir, and Ali Feller Location: Sheraton Hotel Boston (Free with ticket)

9 a.m. on Sunday: Join Women’s Running (that’s us!) for a shakeout run from the Rabbit pop-up store at 270 Newbury Street. We’ll have magazines to give away, a raffle for subscriptions, smoothies, and another raffle from Hoka One One. The run will be led by Pocket Outdoor Media’s editorial director, Erin Beresini. (Free—just show up!)

4 p.m. on Sunday: Pioneers of Women’s Running, part of the Boston Marathon Seminar Series. Four women who broke barriers in the 1960s through the 1980s—Cheryl Treworgy, Julia Chase-Brand, Bobbi Gibb, and Patti Catalano Dillon, share their reflections on the sport. (Room 200, second floor, Hynes Convention Center—admission is free)

Where to grab coffee and eat and drink

Curio

This hipster coffee joint is right off the river esplanade in East Cambridge. It is a true neighborhood gathering hole. Curio only offers coffee drinks and waffles. Handmade, drool-worthy, waffles. Each week they have a different kind of waffle and you can find out what they’re serving on Instagram before you go. And if you bring in your bib, you’ll get $1 off a waffle on Saturday and Sunday.

Mike & Patty’s

Boston isn’t known for our bagels, but that doesn’t mean we can’t compete in the breakfast sandwich department. We usually go halfsies with a buddy and get the Crack and the Fancy. The names speak for themselves.

Flour Bakery + Cafe

If you’re looking for a delicious pastry with an afternoon pick-me-up, Flour is the place to go. From their lemon ginger scones to the brioche au chocolat, you really can’t go wrong with anything at Flour. Flour also has delicious sandwiches, and with locations all over the city, it’s a convenient and fast lunch destination.

General Carb-loading

Avoid the crowds heading to the North End and hit up Sportello in Fort Point or Cinquecento in the South End. Both offer incredible pasta options and will keep those glycogen stores high.

Where to celebrate after the race

Solas is right at the finish line and it is a true Boston Irish pub. It will be filled with fans and runners alike after the race.

The Eliot Lounge was a an older Boston haunt that is known for its marathon-running bartender and for giving free beer to marathoners the day of the race. Sadly it’s now closed, but Tracksmith has revived the Eliot Lounge experience 285 Newbury Street during the marathon. On the second floor of their shop, marathoners can enjoy a free beer post-race.

In the mood for a local craft beer? Hit up the newly opened Night Shift on Lovejoy Wharf or Lamplighter Brewing in Cambridge. These spots are popular among Boston runners and offer plenty of options for any beer craving you might be feeling after those 26.2 miles (or after watching those 26.2 miles).

If you’re more of a cocktail kind of gal, head on over to the Seaport for a drink at the Envoy Hotel. Its Lookout Waterfront Rooftop Bar offers gorgeous views of the city, perfect for that post-race ‘gram. For a more intimate vibe, we suggest Drink in Fort Point. There’s usually a wait here because it’s a small place, but you won’t be disappointed. Each cocktail is crafted by bartenders based on your personal preferences and they get creative.

If you were holding off on more adventurous eating until after the marathon, you’re not going to want to miss checking out Lolita in Back Bay or Fort Point, Blue Dragon in Fort Point, and Banyan Bar + Refuge in the South End. Also, you can’t leave Boston without having a lobster roll and Saltie Girl, conveniently located right off of Newbury Street in Back Bay, is the place to go.

Where to spot elites and running celebs

The B.A.A. 5K and elite mile on Saturday morning is a great way to kick off a weekend of racing. In past years, the race has seen record-breaking times so watching could be just the motivation you need to get excited for Marathon Monday.

Stop by the Fairmont Copley to meet Carly Copley, a Boston celebrity and your therapy dog for however long you stay to pet her. Not only is this hotel where all the elite athletes are put up, but it is the actual headquarters for the race. There are rooms of people in the basement working tirelessly to make sure each checkpoint is working, the app is updating correctly, and that everything is running smoothly.

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