How to track runners at the Boston Marathon 2023

a photo of runners at the Boston Marathon 2022
(Image credit: Getty/Maddie Meyer/Staff)

This Patriot's Day, 30,000 runners will be heading to the start line of one of the world's most iconic marathons. It's not one you can sign up for, you have to be fast enough to qualify, and for many, it'll be the victory lap after months of hard training. But how can you keep track of runners on the course of the 127th Boston Marathon? 

If you want to follow all the action, we’ve found all the ways to keep track of the runners on the course. The elite field looks spectacular, with Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge looking to break the course record, in his quest to win all six of the Marathon Majors.

If you can't make it down to the course, you can watch the runners take on the 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton to Boylston Street from home. Here's how to watch the Boston Marathon from wherever you are in the world

What time does the Boston Marathon start? 

The 2023 race starts with the men’s wheelchair race at 9:02 a.m. (ET), with the women’s wheelchair race starting at 9:05 a.m. The handcycles and duos start at 9:30 a.m., followed by the professional men at 9:37 a.m., the professional women at 9:45 a.m., the para-athletes at 9:50 a.m. The mass participation waves start from 10:00 a.m. 

If you are tracking a friend, family member or running buddy, you'll be able to tell roughly when they are about to start from their running number: 

  • Bib Numbers 201–7,800: Wave 1, starting at 10:00 am
  • Bib Numbers: 8,000–15,999: Wave 2, starting at 10:25 am 
  • Bib Numbers: 16,000–23,999: Wave 3, starting at 10:50 am
  • Bib Numbers: 24,000–32,999: Wave 4, starting at 11:15 am

How to track a runner at the Boston Marathon 

There’s a few different ways to track runners at the Boston Marathon. The first is via the official Boston Marathon app, which is free to download on iOS and Android. Using the tracker app, search for runners by name, bib, city or team. Once you’ve selected your runner, you’ll be able to see their live progress along the course, as well as their splits and times. There is no limit to the number of runners you can track, so be sure to add all your favorites! 

From the app, you’ll be able to get push notifications which will update you of your runners progress, as well as seeing the top leaderboards for the men and women’s elite races, as well as the top USA runners of both genders. 

If you accidentally select the wrong runner, you can remove them from the "upcoming" list on your tracker by clicking on the cross in the top left corner. You’ll then be asked to confirm whether you want to remove the participant from your list.

If you don’t want to download the app, or if you’re at work and can’t keep checking your phone, you can also track runners from the BAA website, which offers a lot of the same functions as the app, but from your desktop! You’ll be able to search for runners and see results and leaderboards in real-time. 

The Boston Marathon finish line

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Other ways to track Boston Marathon runners 

One drawback of the official Boston Marathon app — with thousands of people using it on race day, it can sometimes be a little glitchy. There are other ways to track your runner, both by their running watch or fitness tracker and with certain running apps. 

Firstly, if your runner is wearing a Garmin running watch, and carrying their smartphone, they can turn on Live Track via their Garmin Connect app on their phone. This allows runners to share their live location with friends and family via email, Facebook, or Twitter. The downside here is that it also relies on a phone GPS signal, so might be temperamental on race day and won't be an option for runners leaving their phone in their kit bag. 

If your runner has an Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE, or Apple Watch Ultra (or any of the best Apple Watches for that matter), they will be able to share their live location with you before setting off. To do this, they'll need to add you in the Find People app on the Apple Watch and tap Share my Location. Once they've chosen you as a friend, you can see their location for one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely (depending on which option they chose — we'd recommend the middle one). This too will require them to carry a smartphone with them, unless they have a cellular version of Apple's Watch. 

Another app that works with most modern Garmin running watches and Apple Watches newer than the Apple Watch Series 3 is Strava Beacon. Strava Beacon allows runners to send a live tracking link to three different contacts. This is usually a safety feature on the app but comes in handy on race day — check out our full Strava app review here

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.