BOSTON MARATHON – 16th April 2018

The first leg of the runRICKYrun Project…….

What I thought would be the hardest part was saying goodbye to my best friends before I left Penang to Boston.

What an experience. After a 3 flights, bus and 30 hours I finally arrived at my hotel in Boston….!


EXPO – 15th April 14:49 – tannoy

I was at the expo on the 15th April and at 14:49 in the afternoon, when over the loud speaker they recognised the 5 year anniversary of that tragic day back in 2013 when a terrorist bomb exploded close to the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

It was rather emotional as everyone (and I mean everyone without exception) stopped what they was doing, whether they were trying on clothing, trying to buy, taking photos etc. Everyone stopped, everyone stood still in silence and everyone listened as the Boston representative on loud speaker announced the words in the link

Tomorrow, as one, 30,000 people will run from Hopkinton to the finish in unity, for the community, for Marathon runners and for humanity in general.

??Boston Strong??


Before the expo I was invited to attend the teamUNICEF lunch thanks to the New England Director – Matthew Bane. It was great to meet both Jessica & Matthew whom I had been emailing with questions over the previous weeks. It was also a pleasure to meet the small team of runners that would be making their way to Hopkinton in the morning.

The lunch plate was huge and tasted great but was too much just 24 hours before racing.

There were interviews with the UNICEF social media team and also with young “kids power” representative Andersen.

After lunch we said our goodbyes and agreed to meet at 0830 on race day to give over the kit bags.



Slept ok, considering the anxiety of race day. 

First thing I did was look out ofthe hotel window – rain was falling consistently, the wind was blowing the flags fiercely – it looked very cold and much like a “wintery day in London”.

The forecast predicted that the rain would last all day and that downpours will be heavier around certain times. The temperature was expected to be above freezing in the main but the wind and rain would make it feel colder.

I decided that I would take a large cotton “GAP” hoodie as protection from the cold. I intended to dispose of this at the athletes village in Hopkinton.

I decided on a baseball cap so that the peak can keep some of the rain off my face.

I had my Brooks shorts with inners, my skin tight compression top, my long sleeved compression top, my Brooks “runRICKYrun” shirt, a garbage bag and a poncho.

I had two pairs of running gloves for my hands.

I was wearing my compression sleeves on my calves and my normal Kajeni socks.

I decided on my lime green BROOKS GHOST 10’s for the race.

I lubed up with Vaseline and bodyglide. Paying a lot of attention to my feet. I knew that they would be wet and cold so applied two “blister plasters” on the most prone areas (as a preventative) and then coated both feet in Vaseline. Getting dressed I could feel the excitement building inside of me. I was about to commence the runRICKYrun project and also run one of the most historical races in Marathon terms. I knew that the conditions were not great but I was excited all the same.


The Seaport Hotel laid on a free bus to the baggage drop area. I had to meet teamUNICEF at 08:30 in the bandstand at Boston Common. The short walk from the hotel to the bus opened my eyes to what the weather was going to be like. My poncho lasted a couple of seconds until a split developed down the side (caused by the strong winds). I quickly used my number belt to secure this as best as possible on the bus.

Waiting at the bandstand for the other team members was cold. The UNICEF social team arrived and I had a brief interview with Andersen.

Around 09:00 we made the short walk to the lines of buses that were ferrying runners from Boston common to the start at the Hopkinton Athletes village.

I boarded the huge yellow American School bus….

The journey was long and I was with Lothair who has run several marathons and was also running London just 6 days later….!

With the expectation of mud and more rain at the village I prepared by placing a plastic carrier bag on each shoe (this was a waste of time that I will explain later) and also due to the coldness I decided that I would retain the GAP hoodie as long as possible. Hence, I also took the hour bus journey as a good time to move my running number from my shirt to the number belt on the outside of the poncho.

The Bus to Hopkinton (VIDEO)

The journey seemed like about 1 hour and we could not see much out of the window due to the rain and condensation on the inside. I felt like a school kid sitting there and it dawned on me that we have to run all the way back. It did seem further than 42km…!

HOPKINTON – Athletes village.

I was expecting the area at athletes village to be wet but was not quite expecting the mud that awaited us. After staying hydrated and the hour journey by bus I needed to use the portaloo and made the trek across the muddy field to queue. Within 3 steps my running shoes were soaked and covered in mud. It was horrendous. The plastic bags that I had used to protect my runners were useless and were sucked off my feet by the muddy floor. Immediately my feet felt cold as the icy mud soaked through my shoes, my socks and onto my feet. At this point we still had around 45 minutes until the wave 4 start so trying to keep as warm and as dry as possible was the challenge.

After making my way back from the portaloo we could actually see snow (yes… snow..!) on the floor around the tented area from the previous evening.

They organisers were playing music over the tannoy with intermittent messages telling people to move towards the corrals, have your number showing etc etc.

I decided to start making my way to the start line from the village. It was cold but being in the middle of a sea of people kept some of the wind off. The walk to the start was very slow due to the narrow paths and the crowds of expectant runners. As we neared the start line it was apparent that due to the very bad weather it was going to be a rolling start, rather than via corrals. So I reached the start line and was now “running the Boston Marathon”……!


The common factor throughout the race was the weather…. RAIN.

This could have been called the BOSTON SWIMATHON…..

Whether it was just “spitting” or whether it was like a “monsoon” it was raining throughout. The wind too, would be in your face like a wall at times. Especially with the poncho over my kit, this would be a serious drag on my speed.

I was very conscious of starting steady and not too fast. From Hopkinton it was downhill for the first 6km and there were many runners in the reasonably narrow roads. We exited Hopkinton and went through the towns of Ashland & Framlington and the first 10km was completed (1:05:34 chip time).

The next 5km was reasonably flat and problem free. At this point I realised that there was no point in trying to avoid the puddles as this would just add to the distance I would need to run and also I was already soaked anyway. I felt relatively warm except for my legs. Wearing shorts meant that my knees and thighs were completely exposed to the elements. It was not just the rain but the gusts of wind meant that it was impossible to keep these parts warm. Running past the Lake before the town of Natick was particularly windy. I have been in typhoons in Japan many times during my time there but being outside and exposed to the wind at this point felt worse. I realised that the poncho was slowing me down but at the same time I realised it was keeping the cold wind from hitting my body too. It was a difficult decision to make. I knew that it would be a long slog of around 5hours so I thought it would be best to retain body heat. Not sure this was the most efficient decision but on hearing that over 2500 runners sought medical treatment and 81 attended hospital during the race I think it was a sound one.

Thanks to Glenn at Asia Physio for the advice and support pre race. I lasted to 14/15km before I started to feel the calf again. Your support was greatly appreciated.15km was finished with a 5 km split of 37 minutes (slower than the 30-32min target but hardly surprising). (1:42:06 chip time 15km).

From here to the halfway point it had many inclines that seemed long rather than steep. The rain was relentless and on several occasions I actually said to myself “are you kidding me!” As i looked up to the heavens. Approaching the halfway point I was starting to feel tightness my right calf – particularly on the up hill pushes. I took advantage of the CLIF energy gels that were given out around 18-19km.

I noticed every undulation as uphill the pain in the calf increased and downhill it eased.

20km chip time of 2:20:03 which meant the last 5 km had slowed to 38minutes.

I was not doubting I would finish but I did wonder if 5hours would be in sight?

There was no break in the rain, the wind was still battering us and I was now beginning to feel a little chilly in the body – my face, hands and legs felt cold.

Halfway was 2:29:32.

Wellesley was one of the memorable parts of the course. Don’t get me wrong, there were people cheering throughout the race (even in these atrocious conditions), but Wellesley you can hear them before you get there. The college girls were out in force and cheering everyone. Signs of “my kiss will give you power” made me smile.

The “high 5s” as we were making our way through and the constant noise was very motivational and for a brief moment I was able to forget about the rain. I did enjoy that 800m or so (nearly as much as seeing the finish line later in the race).

20km to 25km was slow and I think due to the weight of the now completely sodden GAP hoodie it was taking its toll. This and the coldness on the thighs. This was another long up hill stretch too. Not steep but a very long incline. Calf pain was now very mentionable but I was still very positive of a finish. I was noticing that the medical tents were very busy as I was sauntering past. I again tried to lift my hoodie to see if I could afford to lose the extra layer. I jogged for 500m with my midriff exposed. It was too cold. So decided the hoodie was here for the long haul and just to keep as warm as possible. I was worried that if the calf pain increased and I had to walk continuously to the finish I would soon be hypothermic in these conditions. The challenge was how to keep your body temperature up. 25km chip time 3:02:03

25km to 30km took us into the town of Newton and the famous hills. The steep downhill followed by 4 hills (last of which is “Heartbreak Hill”). The crowds around Newton Fire Station did their best in the conditions to try to motivate the slower runners. The second hill I found the hardest and ended up walking for most of it due to the calf issue. I did have some doubts at this point. I remember talking to my mum via the GoPro. Saying how I hope that she is doing ok in hospital and that thinking of my mother was inspiring me to carry on. It was emotional, I have to admit it as it was on camera. But I think I can say that it was rain in my eyes rather than tears 😉

I didn’t want to let anyone down. This was the first leg of the runRICKYrun project and the conditions were brutal, but I had to finish. I had to reach Boylston….

30km chip time 3:46:51

Between 30km to 35km we have the Heartbreak Hill. The strange thing was I believe at this point I had zoned out. I kept thinking “Heartbreak is coming”, “it will get easier”, “Downhill to Boston”…..

I lost track of the hills and was surprised when I crested and a spectator shouted “Well done, Heartbreak is behind you”….. I turned around and looked down the hill. I hadn’t actually realised that I was climbing. Mentally I was so busy thinking of other things and just putting one foot in front of the other. Part of me was disappointed to have done this part of the course without realising it.

I actually do not think this Hill was so bad – I actually the one after Newton Fire Station was more of a challenge.

This was a challenging 5km in which my pace dropped to a crawl. Mentally I had faced a wall but kept going. 35km chip time 4:33:37 due to the intermittent walking.

At least at 35km it was now downhill into Boston.

I was feeling cold but knew that there was 7km to go and I had at least 1:30:00 to finish to be within the cutoff. I knew that even a walk could finish this. The rain was still relentless and at times monsoon like. The cold headwind was stronger after Heartbreak hill and the body was feeling cold. Calf pain was now persistent with every step.

The crowds were sporadic but still loud. The fact that they were still out there in these conditions was amazing. I have been impressed at each of the four majors I have run with crowd support, but in this weather I take my hat off to the Bostonians. They own their race and they want to ensure that you make it home and enjoy the experience.

The cries of “Go GAP, You’ve got this” were a constant reminder from the crowd.

Team UNICEF Support at Mile 23.

Around 38km I was able to see Jessica and the UNICEF support. (Thank you for being there Jessica). The encouraging words helped for sure…

My legs felt dead. The constant battle against the headwind, carrying the extra weight of the sodden clothes, cold-soaked feet, approaching 5 hours….. it was the thoughts of charity, my mother, my family and supporters at home that kept me going.

We were now in Brookline – the finish was near….

4km to go, soon became 3km, and I could see the CITGO sign in the distance.

40km – chiptime 5:21:09

The CITGO sign is where there is 1 mile to go.

It was still raining….

It was still windy…..

I was cold……

But I knew the end was near and although I was in pain I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Walking was now more regular. I can remember feeling very frustrated at this point. My training had gone well. Mark & Jeff at had given me access to a fantastic training schedule. I felt as if I had followed this well. Regular 21km races had been consistent in the Malaysian heat. The long 32km run went well. But I was frustrated that in this race I had been beaten by the weather and the calf problem. The lack of training for these conditions (which could not have been planned for) was a factor for sure.

Now we were at the point of turning “right on Hereford” which became a dodge the poncho exercise… the road was a mess as the earlier runners had left countless ponchos laying along the street. I really did not wish to be watching every step at this late stage but at the same time did not wish to take a tumble.

“Left on Boylston” street and the finish line was in the distance. I removed my poncho at this point with the help of a police officer.

Making my way to the finish line was familiar. This part of Boston I had walked down over the previous 48 hours so I knew it and the crowds were drawing you towards the finish. No stopping now.

Amazingly, the calf pain was non existent (adrenaline has some positive benefits) and I was enjoying the final moments on the course. I knew it was slow. I knew it had been tough.

But I also knew that it hadn’t beaten me. I knew that I was finishing and becoming a Boston Marathoner….!

I actually swore when I crossed the line – sorry…!

I blame the emotion, frustration and excitement…!

Chip time 5:40:44

This was my 14th Marathon and also my slowest.

The walk from the finish line I began to think about all the positives.

The heat tech blanket provided post marathon was great. The medal will be a constant reminder to this battle.

There are many positives though – Thanking the countless volunteers that gave up their Monday holiday in the rain to support 30,000 crazy people. Thanking the police for helping to keep everyone safe. Thanking the medical teams who were there for so many.

I have so many memories of the run (thanks to GoPro) that will live with me through the rest of the runRICKYrun project.

I am sure that this will have been the hardest challenge that I will face over this year. It will no doubt be the coldest and wettest I have been (there’s a challenge for Mother Nature).


UNICEF VIDEO – Team UNICEF @ Boston Marathon

One of the benefits for TeamUNICEF was the after race party in the nearby Hancock Tower. The hot shower was one time that I did not mind getting wet. Taking off the sodden shoes and socks. The wrinkled feet. Putting on warm and dry clothes felt like heaven. It’s amazing how fantastic a pair of socks can feel. Never really appreciated socks before. The food was great as was the hospitality of Barbara & Michael Eisenson was a perfect end to a tough day.

Seeing the rest of the teamUNICEF there was great too.

There were some final interviews with the UNICEF social team and also Kid Power representative Andersen.

We all did our best with only 1 DNF in the team (medical drop out at 16 miles).

We had all raised money alongside the training for this great event.

Final thank you to Matthew & Jessica from UNICEF for allowing me access to this run and your support throughout. I understand in total $140,000 approximately has been raised which is fantastic…!



#Boston2018 was truly a historic #BostonMarathon

?Coldest Boston Marathon in the last 30 years

??Des Linden is the first American woman to win in 33 years

??Yuki Kawauchi is the first Japanese man to win in 31 years

??Marcel Hug becomes the second Swiss man to win 4 consecutive times in Push Rim

?Tatyana McFadden won her 22nd Abbott World Marathon Majors in Push Rim

2,500 runners had medical treatment throughout the marathon, mostly for hypothermia.

25 Elite runners dropped DNF, had medical treatment or dropped out.

81 runners went to hospital with many suffering from hypothermia.

From Yahoo News –

This brings us to the weather, which sucked. This is no surprise, since the weather sucks everywhere in America, because Earth killed spring, metaphorically. The Boston race unfolded in a richly diverse list of weather conditions that included wind, more wind, headwinds, backwinds, sidewinds, downwinds, rain, hard rain, snow rain, driving sleet, regular sleet, black ice probably, slush, ice puddles, polar bear infestation and AT-AT attack. Game time temperature was a balmy 37 degrees, the coldest Boston starting temp in more than three decades.