Perfecting the coverage of the marathon, a review of the 2016 BAA Boston Marathon coverage, by Carolyn Mather for Racing South

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The Boston Marathon and London Marathon days are two of our busiest days of the year. We manage nine hour live coverage via our social media channels, plus six to eight stories a day for the week preceeding.

We asked Carolyn Mather to provide a critique of the coverage of the Boston Marathon via streaming or digital. We think that you will enjoy the piece from the long time scribe for Racing South, one of our partners in the Running Network.

Baysa_Atsede-Boston16.JPGAtsede Baysa, 2016 Boston, photo by PhotoRun.net

PERFECTING THE COVERAGE OF THE MARATHON

Over the past decade, my husband Steve and I have watched, with amusement and a cynical critique as the major marathons attempted to tame the airwaves and get a marathon aired over the internet without major issues. This evening I am pleased to say that the Boston Athletic Association has reason to celebrate the 120th edition of the Boston Marathon.


I decided to stay home this year as I was not sure I could handle the emotions of Boston without Steve by my side. We spent many years covering the marathon and working as volunteers with John Hancock, actually escorting the winners through the rigors of finishing first for several years. In recent years, we took more to covering the race as members of the press and as I said, marveled at the lackluster success of live feeds back to the press room. Positioning myself in front of my computer today I hoped I would get to see the uninterrupted coverage of the races from start to finish. Perhaps Steve was helping from the great beyond, but today's event was an unparalleled success. Wire to wire the splendor of today's Boston Marathon was unprecedented.


Coverage began with an introduction of the event then America the Beautiful followed by the three wheelchair starts then the elite women, the elite men and the masses. The top contenders were introduced with their pedigrees.It was a parade of immense pageantry. Each race was followed along the course and Larry Rawson had done his homework as he detailed every aspect of the races.


No commercials interrupted the flow of the races. Larry had done some homework on how the height and weight of the professionals has decreased significantly since 1980. He was well versed on the wheelchair athletes and the course as it winds it's way from Hopkinton to Boston. Special tribute was given to victims of the 2013 bombing who were returning to complete the course.


The weather was perfect at the women's start, although it did heat up as the day progressed. But people were out in record numbers along the course and the cameras conveyed the spirit and immensity of the crowds. The winners of the wheelchair races were recorded and the winners interviewed.

Particularly of interest were the three men, wheel to wheel, coming to the finish pushing as hard as they could. All three men had the same time and second place was awarded by mere centimeters.I could feel the drama sitting in Georgia witnessing the spectacle. And Tatyana McFadden took her fourth Boston crown as she appears to be the queen of the marathon majors!!


Drama continued as the races were fairly tactical and slow, given the conditions. But once a decisive move was made the race was on. I watched as the announcers continually wondered why co-leader Tirfi Tsegaye kept looking back nearly turning completely several times.

Obviously she knew her training partner, Atsede Baysa was making a move. I was glued to the screen as the drama escalated and the camera caught a yellow singlet closing quickly on the co-leaders. Joyce Chepkirui was overtaken quickly then Tirfi Tsegaye met a similar fate.

Never have I been so excited to witness the virtually impossible happen in such a decisive manner. The coverage did not miss a step and the split screen of the races insured I could also view the drama on the men's side as the defending champion, Lelisa Desisa battled with twenty one year old Lemi Berhanu Hayle going stride for stride.


Ethiopia swept five of the top six spots in the mens' and womens' races.Except for a few camera fades, the Boston Athletic Association executed this day of coverage with a degree of perfection I have never seen before. Pertinent facts were conveyed with clarity, all aspects of the races were covered and the commentators, especially Larry Rawson made few if any errors. They had their acts together and did not struggle filling the time with irrelevant babble. Not only was I impressed but enthralled and cheering from my computer chair.


Having lived in Boston for several years and having run the race several times, the coverage completely conveyed the spirit of the city and the race and the personal insights heightened the entire experience. I guess practice does indeed make perfect, as the coverage today was legendary. Many thanks to all of the folks at the BAA who obviously worked very hard to make this happen.You deserve many kudos for going to heights no race has gone before. You have set the standard for professional and personal marathon viewing.

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