But as cell stopwatch have advanced, so too have the tricks that can help the race coverage. Accuracy is the most important thing for the spotters, a team made up of 104 local high school and college students this year. Of those 104, there will be 77 spotters in the field, stationed at each mile marker of the race.
“When we started this use stopwatch run race, we had to drop landlines at every mile of the course,” explained Fred Tressler, who along with former race director Tim Kilduff established the Spotters Network back in 1985. “It involved a lot of work with the phone company and was really challenging because there are places where the utilities are underground. The day of the event the kids would have to go out with a step ladder, the lines would be coiled up a pole or a tree some place, and they’d have to uncoil the line, plug in their phone to the jack and make sure it worked. At the end of the broadcast they would cut the line and wrap it back up.”
If that sounds complicated, that’s because it was. It wasn’t always reliable, either, and it meant the spotters were locked into one location throughout the race. have changed that.
“People will take slow-mo videos so you can watch it back and report the info correctly,” explained Sam Cote, a junior at Hopkinton High who will be a spotter for his second Boston Marathon on Monday. “That has actually gotten me out of a few sticky situations.”