Boston Marathon issues heat warning

NewsCore The Wall Street Journal
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A forecast for intense heat during Monday's Boston Marathon prompted race officials to issue dire warnings, along with the offer of a deferment for runners willing to wait until next year.

"Inexperienced runners should not run," said the Boston Athletic Association, organizer of the race, adding that those who trained only in cool climates should consider not running.

Temperatures in Boston are expected to reach at least the mid-80s Fahrenheit on Monday, some 30 degrees above normal, according to AccuWeather. For an event with past runs through snow storms and heat waves — including hot temperatures in 2004 — Monday's weather won't necessarily make history.

But race officials in the US have been extraordinarily cautious since heat at the 2007 Chicago marathon forced organizers to cancel the race before nearly half the field could finish. In that race, one runner died and more than 300 sought medical attention.

Temperatures in the 50s are generally considered ideal for running a 26.2-mile marathon.

Compared with Chicago's race, which attracts more than 40,000 runners each year, Boston's is more elite. To gain a spot in the Boston race, the vast majority of its 27,000 runners have clocked a superfast finish in a marathon.

Because of that, and with most entrants already in Boston for the race, running experts did not think many would accept a deferment, in which runners would be guaranteed a spot in the 2013 field but would not get a refund of this year's $150 entry fee.

Also doubtful was that elite runners would follow a recommendation from race organizers to slow their pace-per-mile plans by at least a minute.

"I'm not listening to them," runner Lance Bergeson wrote in a blog post for the Des Moines Register, noting that a pace of more than eight minutes per mile would produce "my slowest marathon ever," Bergeson said. "I'm in much better shape than that and feel that the warm March we had in Iowa will somewhat prepare me for what I'll face."

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