Former American middle-distance runner Craig Masback has one of the best second careers around: He makes the call for all of NBC Sports’ coverage of track and field and road racing—including five Olympic Games. On April 17, aside Tim Hutchings, Masback will be the co-commentator for the 121st Boston Marathon. We asked him for his take on this year’s race.
What are you most excited about in this year’s Boston Marathon?
The fact that the Americans have a legitimate chance to win both the men’s and women’s races. All three members of last summer’s U.S. Olympic marathon team—Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward—are running. Desiree Linden, who finished in the top 10 in Rio and has run well in Boston in the past, is running. Also, the men’s race has the current world record holder, Dennis Kimetto, and a former world record holder, Patrick Makau, both of Kenya, as well as the defending Boston winner, Lemi Berhanu Hayle of Ethiopia.
What advice do you have for the first-time Boston Marathon Viewer?
My best advice is patience, and, if possible, a commitment to watching the whole race. Boston is unique—there’s an unusual amount of action for a marathon because it’s so easy for runners to start the race at a fast clip due to the downhill nature of the first half of the race. However, running too fast too early inevitably leads to issues later in the race when the runners face a series of hills. If we do our job correctly, we’ll document the strategic elements of the race and the personal stories of the runners, which should give first-time viewers plenty to follow and several people to root for.
What’s the secret to making a three-hour race dramatic and watchable?
In addition to what I said earlier, some of the best ways to make it “dramatic” are to shut up and let the natural sound of the race tell the story. No marathon in the world has a better, more knowledgeable crowd than Boston, and the enthusiasm of the crowd is compelling. This will be especially true if an American is a serious contender for the win.
*The Boston Marathon airs live on Monday, April 17, at 8:30 a.m. EST on NBCSN, and will be live streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.