Training routes

BQ Marathon Coach

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New York, NY 10011  |

In February 2019, I researched and mapped training routes in 26 U.S. and Canadian cities that roughly simulate the elevation profile of the first 22+ miles of the Boston Marathon - the early downhills in Hopkinson and Ashland, the rolling miles through Framingham, Natick and Wellesley, the four Newton hills and subsequent descent into Cleveland Circle near the border of Brookline.

     Several explanatory notes follow and below those are the links for the corresponding Strava routes, in order of decreasing estimated
​metro population.

➡️ Each route was created using a combination of MapMyRun, topographic maps to scout for desired elevation differences, Google Maps for satellite and street views, personal knowledge (where possible), and old-fashioned obsessive patience and trial and error. GPX files for each original route were exported from MapMyRun and then imported into Strava. I started each route from scratch and did not look up other routes for a shortcut. They are all my own original work. Any similarity to pre-existing routes is unintended. The routes are not perfect. Some are closer approximations to Boston than others. The routes may be tweaked as time goes by if better solutions are discovered via crowdsourcing from knowledgeable local runners or personal experience.

➡️ DISCLAIMER: These routes are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the Boston Athletic Association, the Boston Marathon, John Hancock, Strava, or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates. These routes often make use of busy roads and/or secondary highways (avoided where possible) and are obviously not closed to traffic. BQ Marathon Coach has provided these suggested training routes freely to the running community in the spirit of sportsmanship and shared love for the Boston Marathon. Runners incorporating these routes into their training do so at their own discretion and are solely responsible for their own personal safety.

➡️ The y-axis scales of the elevation profiles may differ in many cases from that of the actual Boston elevation profile. I'm unable to force
correct this.

➡️ Where possible, practical compromise was employed with start/finish locations (i.e. parking/transit) and overall elevation profile accuracy.
It was very challenging to create routes that contain downhills/uphills that are not too steep/shallow, nor too short/long, in roughly the right
places - which do not start and end in the middle of nowhere or involve so many twists and turns that they are impossible to follow at any appreciable running speed.

➡️ Each route substitutes a "Circuit of Truth" for the Newton hills, so-called because the Newton hills are the make or break for most runners. The four Newton hills are all slightly different from one another, but Circuits of Truth purposely consist of the same repeated ascending/descending loop. Since these are intended as suggested training routes, it’s presumed that many runners might be ready for only one or two loops now and will build up to all of them later in their training. These routes make it easy for runners to opt for shorter runs by skipping one or more loops on each Circuit, or for multiple runners to each run their preferred distance but still finish in the same place. Some Circuits of Truth also climb a little more than the actual hills in Newton.

➡️ Due to the quirks of local topographies, and by design (see above), these routes simulate, not replicate. The one Boston course feature that I was least able to reliably simulate was the half mile descent into Lower Newton Falls that immediately precedes the Newton hills. It's almost impossible to find that steep descent within a half mile of the multiple climbs that follow.

➡️ These 26 routes include many of the largest U.S. and Canadian metro areas. Twenty-two are in metro areas with populations of over one million people. The other four were chosen for added geographical diversity and topographical suitability.

New York, NY

Los Angeles, CA

Chicago, IL

Dallas, TX

Washington, DC


Toronto, ON

Phoenix, AZ

Oakland, CA

San Francisco, CA

Montreal, QC

Seattle, WA

San Diego, CA

Denver, CO

Vancouver, BC

Pittsburgh, PA

Austin, TX

Columbus, OH

Nashville, TN

Providence, RI

Hartford, CT

Salt Lake City, UT

Albuquerque, NM

Boise, ID

Scranton, PA

Burlington, VT