Before tens of thousands of marathoners descend on the streets of Boston Monday, a smaller but spirited cohort set out at midnight to trace their entire route—albeit on two wheels.
The Boston Midnight Marathon Bike Ride is held annually on the eve of the Boston Marathon, and about 1,000 cyclists participate each year. This year, the Harvard Outing Club organized a contingent of College students to ride the course.
A group of 15 students, decked out in glow stick bracelets, light-up necklaces, and mohawk helmets, gathered on an otherwise dark Linden Street at 12:30 a.m. Monday morning. With Ed Sheeran playing quietly in the background—out of respect for their sleeping peers—the group exchanged phone numbers and fastened glow stick accessories as they prepared to take to the streets of Boston.
The Midnight Marathon first occurred in 2009, and has grown from its original size of around 50 cyclists. This year, there are two official routes—one measuring 30.6 miles and the other 27.3 miles, avoiding a steep hill—and at the end all participants ride over the marathon’s finish line.
Although the event has no official registration, start time, or leaders, members of Harvard’s group said they added structure to the ride so it would be safe for all participants.
“The leaders meet beforehand to come up with a kind of a set of guidelines to make sure that everyone is going to be safe,” said Zachary A. Chauvin ’17, a member of the Outing Club who helped organize Harvard’s Midnight Marathon. “We always have one leader who’s in the front, one leader who’s in the back, and then as people spread out we just make sure that we have track of everyone.”
Chauvin added that this year, Harvard students did not ride the official route in its entirety. Instead, he said that students met up with the larger group halfway through the course, because Harvard’s campus is several miles from the start point of the Midnight Marathon route.
“In order to do the whole thing, we would have to bike 50 miles in total, which is too much,” Chauvin said. “So we’re going to bike just on random roads halfway and then meet up with the course and then ride on the actual course for the latter half.”
Some Midnight Marathon participants said they partook in Monday morning’s festivities to support Harvard classmates who are running the Boston Marathon.
Outing Club member Julia L. Versel ’17 said she was disappointed that Harvard’s group did not ride the full course, but added she was happy to ride regardless. Versel said she rode to support her roommate, Kruti B. Vora ’17, who will run the marathon later Monday.
“I’m doing this to support Kruti, but also to see what she’ll be experiencing the next day, so I’m really excited,” Versel said. “Originally, I wanted to do the full thing, but I figured it would be better to go with people I know...so I decided to go on the HOC trip.”
Cyclist Paul Lisker ’17, one of the non-Outing Club participants, said he was excited to meet members of the Outing Club as well as to take part in the city-wide celebration.
“The idea of doing the marathon route, or at least part of it, is very exciting given how festive the city becomes as the Marathon Monday approaches,” Lisker said. “It’s the camaraderie of being with friends and meeting new people at the Outing Club but also playing my small part in celebrating what is one of the nicest days of the Boston year."
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