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The Sports Doctor: Boston Marathon is a test of will

The Boston Marathon is one of the world's oldest and most prestigious sporting events. It is far more punishing then the Olympic Marathon. The elite field has been announced for the 2014 Boston Marathon, which takes place on April 21. I've always found The Boston Marathon, always held on Patriots' Day, to be the "granddaddy" of all marathons.

Marathon day goes something like this.

Everyone boards buses the morning of the race bound for the small village of Hopkinton, the starting point of the race. At the starting line, runners from all over the world anxiously await a cannon blast. As a veteran of 35 marathons -- including 13 Boston Marathons -- I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach.

The blast sends the runners off from the Hopkinton green at a minute past noon. All runners try to maintain a steady pace through the towns of Ashland (three mile mark), Framingham (six), Natick (10.5) and Wellesley (12).

It's all quite flat up until this point. Then the mind starts thinking of the famous Newton Hill -- also known as Heartbreak Hill -- at the 19 mile mark. One year, a young child handed me his soda and the sugar absorbed quickly, taking me out of a state of mild hypoglycemia. At about the 20-mile mark, most runners "hit the wall." It now becomes a struggle between an exhausted body and an undefeated spirit.

Coming up the final hill, the sound of the loudspeaker announces that it is all downhill from there on. Continuing on Beacon Street, the runners make their way through Brookline to Kenmore Square, then on to Boylston Street. From there, the runners turn the corner, where thousands jam the streets in front of the Prudential Center. There lies the finish line -- a most spectacular sight.

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Dr. Robert F. Weiss

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