On Monday, April 17, runners from all over the world will descend on Boston to run the historic Boston Marathon from Hopkinton to Copley Square. Whether you want to tune in from home or find a spot to cheer on the athletes, here’s what you need to know.
Athletes leave Hopkinton in waves, beginning at 9 a.m. and through 11 a.m., so there is plenty of action all day. The lead men and women are expected to cross the finish line around 11:45 a.m. and 12 p.m., respectively.
How to watch the Boston Marathon on TV
Boston viewers can find the marathon will on WCVB channel 5. Coverage starts early, at 4 a.m. and goes through the evening.
Viewers elsewhere in New England can find that same live coverage — all day long — broadcast on WMUR in Manchester, New Hampshire, WMTV in Portland, Maine, and WPTZ in Burlington, Vermont.
National coverage will be on ESPN from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In prior years, coverage was available on WBZ locally and NBC Sports Live.
How to watch the Boston Marathon on streaming services
WCVB will live stream the race on its digital platforms and app. Sister stations WMUR, WMTV and WPTZ will also stream the marathon on their respective digital platforms.
A live stream will also be available on Very Local Boston. Streamers can find Very Local in the app store for mobile devices as well as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Samsung TV (2019 and later models).
How to track runners
If you want to track someone along the route, the BAA puts out a free BAA Racing App that you can use to track their bib number as they make their way to Boston. The 2023 version can be downloaded from the App Store for iPhone users or Google Play for Android users.
How to watch the 2023 Boston Marathon in person
Watching the Boston Marathon and cheering on athletes is one of the great Boston traditions, whether you’re getting up early to catch the crowds of runners as they leave Hopkinton, or joining the roaring crowds on Boylston Street to see them cross the finish line.
If you’ll be in the city already, the MBTA is your best bet to get around. You can also take the commuter rail to spots near the route in Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Lansdowne and Back Bay. Check and make sure individual stations are open when it gets close to Marathon Monday: the Copley stop on the Green Line, for one, will be closed all day. Spectators should also expect to go through security checkpoints to access certain areas, like Copley Square.
If you’re planning on driving, make sure to check on road closures and parking restrictions. Roads near the beginning of the route, in Hopkinton and Ashland, will be closed from around 6:15 a.m. to 1:20 p.m., while roads closer to the end of the route, like Brookline and Back Bay, will be closed from around 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking will be limited all along the race course. The BAA recommends finish line spectators park in the Prudential Center Parking garage or Coply Place Parking. See a full list of closures and timings in the BAA Spectator Guide.
How Boston Police are preparing for marathon Monday
Regardless of how you get to the race route, expect a police presence and be ready to pass through security checkpoints.
Officials from Boston Police, Transit Police, State Police, the FBI and more will be stationed along the route. Spectators should expect their bags will be inspected at checkpoints, and items like backpacks and weapons aren't allowed.
Law enforcement leaders also encourage spectators to speak up if they see anything suspicious at this year's Boston Marathon. The FBI said it is not aware of any specific or credible threats to the race, but officials still recommend attendees remain aware.
"Check your cellphone settings and make sure that your phone can receive emergency and public safety alerts to ensure that you receive any urgent public safety messages," MEMA acting director Dawn Brantley said during an April 13 press conference. "This is a good idea every day and not just on marathon Monday."
Favorite spectator spots along the Boston Marathon route
Among the more popular viewing spots are the Scream Tunnel at Wellesley College, Heartbreak Hill (which culminates around mile 21 at Boston College), Beacon Street in Brookline and, of course, the finish line on Boylston Street at Copley Square.
GBH News asked our followers the best place to watch the marathon. Here are their favorite spots:
Julie says that the halfway point in Wellesley works well for anyone driving, and it’s when runners can use some extra encouragement:
Wellesley just after the halfway mark (our fav spot, plus easy parking) bc the runners are still lucid and seem to appreciate and need the cheering. We always wear our UW Badger gear and the Wisco runners love to connect with that and it's so fun! So wear your school gear!— Julie (@Badgergrrrl) March 13, 2023
Ian Lamont likes to watch runners as they turn onto Commonwealth Avenue and give some encouragement before they start the infamous Newton hills:
Where the marathon turns from rt 16 to Comm Ave in Newton. Great views, lots of cheering, party atmosphere. Steep hills start after this point! https://t.co/y28bqAdx1z— Ian Lamont 藍毅恩 (@ilamont) March 13, 2023
Ben Horner says Beacon Street in Brookline is a great spot for both cheering and brunch on Marathon Monday:
Washington Square in Brookline. Start off watching it from the Burro Bar patio for brunch, then shift across the street to the Publick House outdoor seating to cheer on the later runners.— Ben Horner (@benhorner13) March 13, 2023
Greg Maynard also recommends Brookline, but prefers Coolidge Corner at the intersection of Beacon and Harvard streets:
In Brookline, at Coolidge Corner, at Prairie Fire's Beer Garden with the app up so you can walk out to cheer on friends! https://t.co/C4PaovlYE0— Greg Maynard (@gpimaynard) March 15, 2023
For a festive atmosphere, check out Kenmore Square and join the thousands of students who will be cheering on the athletes near Fenway Park:
Kenmore Square for the experience: near the end, mix of college students (BU, MIT, Emerson, NU, Simmons & Emmanuel) + Fenway crowd makes for fun party— JS (@j_m_santiago) March 13, 2023
Maddie Brodeur recommends the bridge on Massachusetts Avenue, right after the runners pass through Kenmore Square:
When the runners go under Mass Ave. They are close to the finish but usually not too crowded and it’s easy for spectators to get from one side of the course to the other.— Maddie Brodeur (@MaddieBrodeur) March 14, 2023
For spectators in Back Bay, the corner of Gloucester Street is a great spot to cheer runners on as they are in the home stretch:
I love the turn from Gloucester onto Boylston. There's a short, incline and the crowd goes crazy encouraging participants who are struggling to make it (especially knowing they are so close to the finish)— George Kaplan (@MrGeorgeKaplan) March 13, 2023
And the most inspiring spot is, of course, the finish line at Copley Square:
I mean, my personal favorite is at the finish line, volunteering to pack and handout post-race recover bags of food and water. But it’s been a few years since I’ve done that. https://t.co/Ykb2adoHnj— Adam Salsman 🖖 (@asalsman) March 13, 2023
Find recommended spectator spots along GBH News' Boston Marathon route map below. Looking for ways to get around on race day? Open the left menu and check the box next to "parking and transit" for suggestions.