The historic ballpark hosts the first marathon in its 105-year history.
On Friday, September 15, the Boston Red Sox visited the Tampa Bay Rays, coming out on top after playing what would be considered a marathon for baseball players: a 15-inning, six-hour game that the Sox won 13-6. Meanwhile, back at their home field of Fenway Park, another, more traditional marathon was playing out.
The course for the inaugural Fenway Park Marathon was simple. Runners—50 total—started in left field (alongside the famed Green Monster) then continued along the warning track around the field. There was a monitor by first base that would let runners know how many laps they had remaining.
Race director Dave McGillivray’s crew had measured the course using the tangents of the warning track. On race day they were informed by the Red Sox grounds crew that runners would only be allowed within a few feet of the edge of the grass. This added dozens of extra feet to each of the race’s 116.5 laps. The veteran race director did the race himself and had well over 27 miles on his watch by the time he crossed the finish line.
“I warned them before the race, don’t listen to the Garmin. Just listen to how many laps are left,” McGillivray told Runner’s World. “No one knew what to expect going in. We were all nervous about the monotony of so many laps. Everyone was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.”
Rain soaked the marathoners on three separate occasions, but unlike in baseball, there were no rain delays. Succumbing to “the wall” (or, in this case, the Monster) was simply out of the question.
“In a normal race, you could drop out and no one would know,” McGillivray said. “Here, everyone could see you the whole way. There’s no temptation to even walk. It gave you an incentive to dig deeper.”
Michael Wardian, a runner known for participating in unique races, broke the tape in 2:53. McGillivray estimates Wardian passed some runners upwards of 50 times, cheering on each one as he did so.
The Boston Red Sox have called Fenway Park their home since the 1912 season. The stadium has hosted the World Series, concerts, and even a few hockey games. Pretty much the only event America’s Most Beloved Ballpark hadn’t hosted was a marathon.
“When you think of all the history that was made there by the best baseball players in history—we’re a bunch of runners, also making history of our own. It was very emotional,” McGillivray said.
The race’s participants raised more than $320,000 for the Red Sox Foundation, the official team charity of the Red Sox that focuses largely on youth programming and cancer research. Organizers hope to do it all again next year.
“It was more about the experience than competition—no one is going to PR,” McGillivray said. “We measured it for the USATF, but I didn’t even get the race certified (as a Boston Qualifier). It was more of an experience than a traditional marathon.”