Some people never get the chance to run the prestigious Boston Marathon. But anyone can watch it, and from what I’ve heard, that’s a sport in itself!

On Monday, April 15, thousands of runners will toe the start line (or at least line up behind the elite runners that get to toe the start line) to run the 2013 Boston Marathon. This year marks the 117th running of the world’s oldest annual marathon. In addition to the thousands of runners, the Boston Marathon attracts just as many, or more, spectators.

In the article “How to Watch the Boston Marathon” on Cool Running, columnist Don Allison says this about spectating the race: “It’s dog-eat-dog, every man for himself out there, the epitome of Darwinism at work. Only the strong survive when it comes to viewing a mega-marathon such as Boston.”

Yikes. Luckily, he offers some great places to watch the race—Ashland, Framingham, Natick or the Newton Hills—and some tips for viewing the marathon in his article –

Tips to Watch Boston Marathon in Person:

  • Stay stationary: No zipping around at this race—it’s too crowded.
  • Find a good spot and get there early: The start of the race does not qualify as a “good spot.”
  • Watch the finish: Get to Boylston Street very early for a good spot, and know that you’ll be waiting a loooong time till the runners come in.
  • Bring your bike: Allison says the easiest way to get around if you want to change spectating spots during the race is by bike.

It’s a good idea to look at the course ahead of time, too, if you can and maybe even drive to the place or places you want to watch from beforehand. Click the link of a map of the Boston Marathon course.

Start times are staggered for Boston runners. Here’s a list of all the start times from the Boston Athletic Association’s website:

  • Mobility Impaired: 9 a.m.
  • Wheelchair Division: 9:17 a.m.
  • Handcycles: 9:22 a.m.
  • Elite Women: 9:32 a.m.
  • Elite Men & Wave 1: 10 a.m.
  • Wave 2: 10:20 a.m.
  • Wave 3: 10:40 a.m.

The BAA site also has a handy Spectator Guide with road closures, parking areas and even a prediction of the times elites will pass certain locations along the course.

But not everyone can be there in person. Luckily, there are several ways you can virtually watch the Boston Marathon.

Tips to Watch Boston Marathon from Home:

  • Live TV coverage: Watch the marathon on national TV with Universal Sports Television Network’s broadcast beginning at 9:30 a.m. (ET) on Monday, April 15.
  • Live Web coverage: Go to www.BAA.org to watch live web coverage of the race. I watched my fried cross the finish line on the webcast a couple of years ago. I even cried a little.
  • Athlete Alert: Get text alerts about your runners! Register for the AT&T Athlete Alerts by texting RUNNER to 345678. On race day, you will receive an alert as your runner reaches the 10K, 13.1-mile, 30K, and the finish line! (Click the link on how to download the app and for the fine print on this service.)

Have you ever spectated the Boston Marathon? Please share any advice or tips you may have!