BOSTON — The heat was unprecedented and so was the offer: Any of the 27,000 runners in last year’s Boston Marathon could skip the race and automatically qualify for the 2013 edition instead.
About 2,300 people took race organizers up on the deal.
By re-starting their training and postponing their plans for a year, they are expected to be greeted with temperatures in the mid-50s today when the 117th Boston Marathon reaches Copley Square.
Perfect running weather — good news not just for the runners but for organizers coming off a year in which the record-setting heat sent record numbers of runners for medical attention.
“We got a bye,” race director Dave McGillivray said. “And that’s good, because we need this year to regroup.”
A year after perfect weather helped pace Geoffrey Mutai to the fastest marathon in history, forecasts for the 2012 race climbed toward 90 degrees and Boston Athletic Association encouraged any inexperienced or ill runners to stay home. For those that decided to brave sweltering pavement that reached triple digits, extra water and doctors were available.
Winner Wesley Korir cramped up in the final mile but moved back into first place when those ahead of him faded even faster. His heat-slowed time of 2 hours, 12 minutes, 40 seconds was almost 10 minutes slower than Mutai’s 2:03:02.
Sharon Cherop completed the Kenyan sweep, outkicking Jemima Jelagat Sumgong to win by 2 seconds in 2:31:50. The women’s winner was decided by a sprint down Boylston Street for the fifth consecutive year — all of them decided by 3 seconds or less.
Both defending champions are back, leading a field that includes not just one American contender but two — both on the women’s side: Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, of nearby Marblehead, and her training partner, Kara Goucher, a two-time Top 5 finisher here.