Home Fitness guide How to Track Runners at the 2021 Boston Marathon

How to Track Runners at the 2021 Boston Marathon


Today, Boston’s first-ever Fall Marathon takes place, with 20,000 runners heading to the start line of the iconic Hopkinton Marathon. After two Patriots’ Days without a marathon in Boston, the race is back for its 125th edition.

If you have a day off and want to keep up with all the action, we’ve found all the ways to keep up with the runners on the course. The elite field looks spectacular, with Jordan Hasay, Des Linden and Molly Huddle all returning to Boston to race at home. Here’s how to watch the Boston Marathon online right now.

The 2021 race starts earlier, with a rolling start to allow more distance on the course. The men’s wheelchair race starts at 8:02 am ET, while the women’s wheelchair race begins at 8:05 am ET. Handbikes and duos start at 8:30 am, followed by male professionals at 8:37 am, female professionals at 8:45 am, para-athletes at 8:50 am and then rolling mass from 9:00 am. a m

How to Track a Boston Marathon Runner

There are different ways to track Boston Marathon runners. The first is via the official Boston Marathon app, which can be downloaded for free from ios and Android. Using the tracker app, search for runners by name, bib, city or team. Once you have selected your runner, you will be able to see their progress live throughout the course, as well as their split times and times. There is no limit to the number of runners you can follow, so be sure to add all of your favorites!

From the app, you will be able to receive push notifications that will keep you updated on your runners’ progress, as well as seeing the top rankings for elite men’s and women’s races, as well as the top US runners of both sexes.

If you accidentally select the wrong runner, you can remove it from the “coming soon” list on your tracker by clicking on the cross in the upper left corner. You will then be asked to confirm whether you want to remove the participant from your list.

If you don’t want to download the app, or if you’re at work and can’t continue to check your phone, you can also track runners from the BAA website, which offers many of the same functions as the app, but from your desktop! You will be able to search for runners and see the results and rankings in real time.

Boston Marathon finish line

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to follow a runner in the Boston Virtual Marathon

In addition to the mass participation race, this year there will be a virtual Boston Marathon, where runners will be able to cover 26.2 miles anywhere, anytime during the race window, which is between 8 and October 10.

To track your runner’s progress in the Virtual Boston Marathon, simply enter their name or bib number in the search bar. From the app you will be able to see their own map of their 26.2 mile run and times.

Other Ways to Track Boston Marathon Runners

One downside to the official Boston Marathon app – with thousands of people using it on race day, it can be a bit glitchy at times. There are other ways to track your runner, both through their running watch or fitness tracker and with certain running apps.

First, if your runner is wearing a Garmin running watch and their smartphone, they can activate Live Track through their Garmin Connect app on their phone. This allows runners to share their location live with friends and family via email, Facebook or Twitter. The downside here is that it also relies on a phone’s GPS signal, so it can be finicky on race day and won’t be an option for runners leaving their phones in their kit bag. The Garmin Forerunner 245 LTE also has live tracking and can relay a runner’s location without the need for a phone.

If your runner has an Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 3 or later, they’ll be able to share their location live with you before they go. To do this, they’ll need to add you to the Find People app on the Apple Watch and tap share my location. Once they choose you as a friend, you will be able to see their location for an hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely (depending on which option they choose – we recommend the middle one). This, too, will require them to carry a smartphone with them, unless they have a cellular version of the Apple Watch.

Strava Beacon is another app that works with most modern Garmin running watches and Apple watches newer than Apple Watch Series 3. Strava Beacon allows runners to send a live tracking link to three different contacts. Usually this is a safety feature of the app, but it is useful on race day. Check out our full review of the Strava app here.


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