By David Monti
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with Permissions
BOSTON (14-Apr) -- Concerned about the high temperatures forecast for Monday's 116th Boston Marathon, race officials announced here today that they were taking the unusual step of allowing any of the more than 27,000 entrants to defer their participation in the race until next year.
"Our first and strongest focus is on the safety of the people who are running," said Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk in a hastily called press conference this afternoon. He continued: "We're doing everything we can to provide for their safety, but we need them to look out for themselves."
Grilk, flanked by his medical director Dr. Pierre D'Hemecourt and race director Dave McGillivray, said that while his organization was making sure that all safety precautions were being taken, he wanted each runner to be sure that he or she was confident about their ability to run in the heat. If they were not, he said, he wanted those runners to skip running this year and run in next year's race, instead. Any runner who picks up their number this year but does not start the race will be automatically qualified for the 2013 event.
"We don't want someone to think that they have to run," Grilk explained. He added: "If you don't start, we'll allow you to defer your entry for a year."
Race director McGillivray said that this was not the first time that the race had allowed deferred entries. In 2010 when the eruption of a volcano in Iceland halted international air travel, organizers allowed 300 overseas athletes who were unable to make it to Boston to defer their entries until the following year.
Dr. D'Hemecourt said that people with "underlying medical problems," like coronary disease, and "unfit" runners should strongly consider sitting out the event. He also said that well-trained recreational runners should dial back their expectations for their finish time.
"This is not a day for personal bests," Dr. D'Hemecourt said.
McGillivray told reporters that the race had a contingency plan for hot weather and, in concert with local and state officials and their water sponsor Poland Spring, there would be plenty of water for runners to drink throughout the course.
"It's pretty amazing to witness the cooperation with all the different agencies to make this thing safe for all of the runners," McGillivray said. He continued: "Everything that can be done is being done."
Barry Burbank, a weather forecaster at local CBS affiliate WBZ, said today that "it would be at least 70 degrees (21C)" at the start of the race and be "at least 85 degrees (29C)" at the finish line.