Boston Marathon Organizers Indicate 2012 Race to Occur in "Red Zone" Not Safe for "Unfit and Novice Runners"

Boston Marathon organizer issued another precautionary email today with a more direct recommendation that "anyone entered in the marathon who has not met the qualifying standards for their age and gender strongly consider not running, and that they strongly consider deferring until next year."

That is very strong wording. They are obviously taking this weather very seriously. As mentioned yesterday, I think a deferment of this magnitude is unprecedented. Of course they still will ask those not running this year's race to pay for next year's race, thus giving up the $150 they paid this year. But it gives these runners another chance to run should they decide to take a pass.

Here is today's email from Boston Marathon organizers:

Update to Entrants in Tomorrow's Boston Marathon®

Sunday, April 15, 2012 as of 4:30 p.m.


Running any marathon involves risks

  • The weather conditions that we will be seeing on Monday, April 16 will involve even more risk.  It will involve an increased element of risk to all participants due to the heat.  Only the fittest runners should consider participating.
  • We have put in place a broad array of services and support for our marathon participants, but the risks that will be presented on April 16 will be higher than normal.
  • Therefore, in cooperation with the Boston Marathon's Medical Team, it is our recommendation that anyone entered in the marathon who has not met the qualifying standards for their age and gender strongly consider not running, and that they strongly consider deferring until next year.
  • Another essential factor to take into consideration is whether you have ever run a full marathon in weather conditions involving hot temperatures-and that can mean temperatures even lower than those that may be present on Monday.  Do NOT assume that any experience you have in running a cooler marathon will be a reliable guide in making the decision in whether to participate or defer.  You must factor in the heat.
  • Everyone who does choose to participate should strongly consider running significantly more slowly that they normally would plan to run a marathon.  We have extended the opening of our finish line in support of this recommendation.
  • For the overwhelming majority of those who have entered to participate in the 2012 Boston Marathon, you should adopt the attitude that THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY-everyone needs to take responsibility for their own safety.  Ultimately this is an individual sport in which individuals must take responsibility for themselves.

Boston Athletic Association


Advisory From Boston Marathon MEDICAL DIRECTORS to Entrants in the 2012 Boston Marathon

Sunday, April 15, 2012 as of 4:30 p.m.


The weather situation continues to be a significant concern for Boston Marathoners. We have determined that the race will occur in a "red zone" which is considered an increased risk but acceptable for high-level elite runners.  However, it is not considered safe for unfit and novice runners.


We strongly recommend that unless you have met qualifying times for this race that you accept the deferment option from the B.A.A.


Anyone who has not run a qualifying time should also very strongly consider the deferment option.


Again, if you have any medical problems or if you under-trained, then please do not run this marathon.


Those who are running the race should run much slower, adding several minutes to your per mile pace.


Also important, please be sure to complete the emergency medical contact information on the reverse side of your bib.


Remember, unless you are acclimated to the weather conditions forecast for Monday, you should not run.


For those very fit athletes who decide to run, you should take significant precautions:


  • Run at a slower pace and maintain hydration.
  • You should frequently take breaks by walking instead of running.
  • Heat stroke is a serious issue and is related to intensity of running as well as the heat and humidity.
  • Good hydration is important but over hydration is also dangerous.

Thirst is an indication that you are under-hydrated. You should maintain hydration levels slightly greater than your hydration program in your training, but not excessively so.  Over-hydration can cause severely low sodium, known as hyponatremia.


Even the fittest athletes that take precautions can still suffer serious heat illness. Recognizing symptoms of heat illness in yourself and others is critical. This may include headaches, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these, stop running immediately and if symptoms persist seek medical attention.


Boston Marathon Co-Medical Directors, Dr. Pierre d'Hemecourt and Dr. Sophia Dyer