This is one of those bucket list experience races. My first time in Boston, first time at Fenway, and first time running that famous course. I tried to take as much in over the weekend as I could (within reason). The BIB pickup side of the expo is easy to get in and out of. The merchandise side is pretty overwhelming and very tight. While cool to see, I'd recommend hitting up some of the brand stores around to get your merch: Adidas RunBase, Nike, NB, and Marathon Sports, just to name a few. Our hotel was right in the heart of the finish area. While very convenient, when I do this race again, I'll probably stay in Cambridge or towards the North End to save some $$. The downtown area isn't that big and it's very manageable via the T. There's so much to see and do the weekend leading into the race - it's a good idea to get a gameplan for Sat and Sun, and schedule in some downtime, too!!
Our Boston 365 program, via Fleet Feet and Adidas, had a chartered bus to Hopkinton so we didn't need to use the race gear check area and we had full access to the bus until we left for the start line. Allow yourself an hour to get from the Athlete Village to the start. It's probably not a mile, but it's slow moving and there's also a huge lot of port-o-potties before you enter the corrals.
The actual course is fairly straight with only 4-5 90 degree turns. However, the first half is almost all downhill and if you haven't trained on hills...the second half will be challenging to say the least. It was so cool seeing all of the famous sections: the "Scream Tunnel", the Newton Hills, Boston College, the Boston Strong overpass, the right on Hereford, and left on Boylston to the finish.
The finisher shoot and post race area is well managed and all of the volunteers were so good! Be aware, it's another hike to actually get out of the post race area. Keep moving. Your legs will thank you later.
Although I missed my time goal, my ability to reassess at the halfway point allowed me to truly enjoy the second half of the race. It's probably the most fun I've had running a marathon, ever. I may not be back every year, but I will definitely run this again...and again.