For years, there’s been a tug-of-war between runners and the rest of the real world when it comes to the weather on Marathon Monday.
The rest of the real world has gone through a winter that, even when it’s considered mild and harmless, is nevertheless too cold, too windy, and not at all conducive to outdoor activities.
And Lord help us if that winter is unusually harsh, or if it arrives too late and hangs around too long (you know, like this year’s).
These people, the rest of us who don’t have a vested interest in what it’s doing outside, would like nothing more than a sunny, balmy 65- or 70-degree day so we can turn the day into a giant party and be comfortable. We don’t care that the runners — the ones in whose honor we are throwing this party — would prefer throwback weather to February. And without the sun being anywhere in the sky, thank you very much.
Today, the runners won. Well, putting it that way tends to diminish the grandiosity of the occasion. No. The runners didn’t win. They smashed winning to smithereens.
The rest of us — the ones who don’t need it to be Antarctic-esque to consider it a good day — reached the point a half hour before the Marathon even begun that we were truly tired of winning.
Watching Marathon coverage Monday was like watching these gleeful meteorologists on television during a blizzard. They could not contain themselves.
The camera would show a bunch of runners splashing through Natick and the commentators would say “look at it pour. It is a monsoon out there.”
Well, yeah. We can see, you know.
But sometimes, these newsmen and newswomen attack this from the wrong perspective. They’re out there, in their TV station-logo foul weather gear, commiserating about the awful weather, and they forget the runners love this stuff.
Take Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi, who put on a closing push to win the race, couldn’t say enough about how great the conditions were. Now, he may have been a tad sarcastic when he said, through an interpreter, that Monday’s conditions were the best possible for him, but it’s obvious he’s comfortable running in wretched weather.
Then again, Kawauchi underwent an odd rehearsal for the miserable weather we all experienced Monday. Back on Jan. 2, on a day when most sane people were wrapped up in blankets and dressed in layers (because the high that day was 18 degrees), Kawauchi ran a Marathon in Marshfield, and set the course record. So Yuki knows cold. And he did allow that he was happy Monday’s race wasn’t that cold.
One of our local runners, Karen DiLisio of Lynn, ran her best time ever. So obviously she didn’t mind the rain. Nor did Ellen Goldberg of Nahant, who was doing happy dances for about a week when she found out it was going to be rainy on Marathon Day.
But for the rest of us — especially the ones who had to spend a lot of time outdoors — this was horrendous. Observing the human traffic at race headquarters at the Copley Plaza, you saw camera operators trudging in to the media center as if they’d just walked through Niagara Falls. The water was dripping off them. Their equipment was wrapped in layers of plastic, and when they took off their jackets, they looked like dogs drying themselves off after a romp in a puddle.
Not everybody was so strident. Women’s winner Desiree Linden simply said the conditions were brutal. Some of the runners who glorify in the cold, raw weather on Marathon day did get a little too much of a good thing.
Of course, a few years back the temperature at the finish line was 86 degrees and the triage unit behind the finish line looked like something out of M.A.S.H. due to all the dehydration and heat stroke cases. You see that, and you can understand why the runners would prefer it a little cool.
But “a little” is the key phrase here. What we got Monday was ridiculous.
But it’s in keeping with the way the jet stream has tortured us ever since that first Nor’easter in March. This has been a steady pattern now for a month and a half, and it doesn’t look as if it’s going away anytime soon.
Good news for runners. Bad news for everybody else.