After one cancellation and two years of overall turmoil, the Boston Marathon finally returns to its traditional Patriots’ Day date on April 18. The world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race is expected to once again attract running fans to line the fabled course from Hopkinton to the Copley Square finish line, cheering on the elite runner favorites as well as the valiant amateurs who do it for the love of running, to challenge themselves or raise money for charity—and perhaps all three. Beyond the start and finish areas, top spots to watch all the action include the midway point in Wellesley, where dozens of enthusiastic Wellesley College students form a virtual “scream tunnel”; Newton’s infamous Heartbreak Hill, where many a Boston Marathon has been won or lost; Coolidge Corner in Brookline, home to many outstanding bars and restaurants for savoring before, during and after the event; and Kenmore Square, near the annual race-day Red Sox game at Fenway Park, which usually ends right as the front-runners are passing through the area. Celebrate the (ahem) run-up to the big event beginning April 15 with Fan Fest in Copley Square, a three-day blowout that features live music, exercise classes, interviews with past champions and current contenders, a running clinic and more. Also enjoy in the free Boston Marathon Expo at the Back Bay’s John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center from April 15–17, where visitors can partake in several special events and panels while getting the 411 on the latest running gear and mingling with the runners as they prepare for the big day.