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Today is the 105th running of the Boston Marathon.
April 16, 2001 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Today is the 105th running of the Boston Marathon. Growing up in Natick, Massachusetts, which is the ten-mile point of the route, the Marathon was always a huge deal. I remember watching every year as the wheelchair racers would zoom by to the roar of the crowd. We'd then wait a few minutes until the State Police motorcycles and the press trucks marked the lead runners. Before long the street was nothing but a solid wall of runners in all shapes, sizes and colors. A favorite thing to do would be to cheer someone on based on the t-shirt they were wearing. One year I saw a man wearing a t-shirt with a picture of the Mandlebrot Set. I yelled "Go fractal man!" He looked at me and smiled, and I knew I gave him a little bit of a boost that day. The race is certainly a yearly tradition around these parts. Does the rest of the world care? Is this big news elsewhere or just a small blurb on Page E-6?
posted by bondcliff (37 comments total)

 
I'm from Ontario, a teacher I had in highschool came in the top 100 or something many years ago. It's still something he's pround of and that people are impressed by. I think it's the best known foot race in the world.
posted by tiamat at 7:31 AM on April 16, 2001


Whoa! Apologies for taking up half the main page with my comment. Next time I'll keep it a bit shorter...
posted by bondcliff at 7:39 AM on April 16, 2001


I actually thought about this as I was crossing Rte 135 in downtown Natick this morning.

I've lived in metro Boston for 23 years, and though I've tried to get excited about the Marathon, what it really means to me is that I need to be careful about knowing which roads are going to be closed and for how long.
posted by idiolect at 7:45 AM on April 16, 2001


If you're interested, this year the official Marathon website has real-time stats on the race.
posted by briank at 7:47 AM on April 16, 2001


Picking something about a runner's appearance in order to cheer that person on is a tradition, at least in the US. Non-competitive runners are more interested in it than the pros, usually, so that's where you get the freakily dressed participants, like Batman or half-man, half-woman, or what have you. A friend just came to visit in Paris in order to run the marathon last weekend and we found that the French crowds were less enthusiastic and less likely to tailor their comments for each runner. Could have been the rain, though.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:07 AM on April 16, 2001


I was looking at the statistics page for the race. 14 visually impaired runners.... Wow. Do they run with dogs? Or does that just mean they have really thick glasses? This question is in all seriousness. I've never watched the Boston Marathon - running doesn't interest me as a sport.
posted by starvingartist at 8:20 AM on April 16, 2001


My son goes there yearly. Never has run it but has run the Marine marathon three times and NY twice. He loves Boston Marathon and goes to watch friends run and to watch elite runners. I have never been there for the run but have done NY....there is still something about Boston, though....Ah, Bill Rogers.... I try to run each year in New Haven's half marathon with my son. Rogers won the first year they began this one. Thanks for trip down memory lane.
posted by Postroad at 8:24 AM on April 16, 2001


starvingartist: I don't know anything about visually impaired runners, but I'd imagine they have another visually-abled person running with them.
posted by MarkAnd at 8:33 AM on April 16, 2001


As far as I know, visually impared runners have someone running in front of them as a guide.

The wheelchair "runners" are usually the high point for most people. Seeing them zoom by, their chairs (actually very high-tech trikes) almost a part of them is really something to witness.

There's always a few characters in the race as well. I've seen people in Superman outfits, Viking helmets, bare feet, dresses, clown wigs, tuxes, and one man with a can of beer dangling on a pole in front of him.
posted by bondcliff at 8:36 AM on April 16, 2001


"Does the rest of the world care?"

I have contacted the rest of the world, and they wanted to let you know that, no, they do not care. So sorry.
posted by Outlawyr at 8:43 AM on April 16, 2001


Having lived in Boston and then not, we care about the Boston Marathon about as much as Groundhog Day (the one in February; not the 2000 Election). Sorry.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:50 AM on April 16, 2001


Sorry, I keep forgetting that New England is only the center of the Universe to those of us who live here.
posted by bondcliff at 9:01 AM on April 16, 2001


Just reporting. It's actually a fun event--especially since it's linked to a day off for many!
posted by ParisParamus at 9:06 AM on April 16, 2001


Boston is not only the center of the universe, it's the Hub of the universe.
posted by MarkAnd at 9:12 AM on April 16, 2001


Hub and center? Gosh.
posted by Ravagin at 9:14 AM on April 16, 2001


To answer the question: no, but I doubt the non-athlete world outside Britain cares much about next week's London Marathon. (Interesting site, I now see: overdone, yes: but nice to see "runners' info there.)
posted by holgate at 9:19 AM on April 16, 2001


(And Boston's only at the centre of the universe because it's impossible to drive away from the place: it's a traffic singularity, infinitely dense with immobile cars.)
posted by holgate at 9:21 AM on April 16, 2001


re:

"Does the rest of the world care? Is this big news elsewhere or just a small blurb on Page E-6?"

not sure about this, since i haven't done any running or kept in any type of 'shape' in some time. all news is good news, i suppose

(my lone experience in boston was after a night's drive from the cape, an unsuccessful search for a motel vacancy, and 2 days of zero sleep. what a letdown seeing MIT, my childhood mecca, was that day...)
posted by meta.chris at 9:23 AM on April 16, 2001


Runners care. And there are a lot of runners.
posted by rodii at 9:33 AM on April 16, 2001


Back when the Boston Marathon was THE marathon, everybody cared, but with so many "major" marathon events now, it's just one of many. Still, Boston boosters occasionally fantasize about having the Olympics here just so the Olympic marathon can be run on the Boston route.

Think the traffic is bad on ordinary days, holgate? Imagine gridlock from the Canadian border to New York City if they ever tried to have the Olympics here.
posted by briank at 9:35 AM on April 16, 2001


Plus, without the Boston Marathon, people would forget all about Hopkinton. Do you want that on your conscience?
posted by MarkAnd at 9:42 AM on April 16, 2001


I like the tradition of giving a boost to race participants based on their outfits or appearance. In fact, its something the crowd does every year here at the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta.
posted by trox at 9:44 AM on April 16, 2001


Think the traffic is bad on ordinary days, holgate? Imagine gridlock from the Canadian border to New York City if they ever tried to have the Olympics here.

It's bizarre how people from MA think they're wonderful because they have bad traffic. In the first place, I wouldn't be proud of bad traffic. Second, the traffic isn't that bad.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:52 AM on April 16, 2001


It's bizarre how people from MA think they're wonderful because they have bad traffic.

People in MA do nothing but complain about the bad traffic. Nobody that I've talked to (in 25 years) seems proud of it.

Second, it is bad.
posted by MarkAnd at 9:58 AM on April 16, 2001


They ought to do something about that, like, build a huge new freeway under the center of town. That would fix things right up.
posted by rodii at 10:08 AM on April 16, 2001


bondcliff, for commentary like that you can always create a comment inside the thread.

I don't know that the rest of the world cares per se, but I can say that the Boston marathon gets more coverage than any except perhaps New York's. Especially runners keeping track of their favorites. As a spectator sport, though, no, but then that's track and field in the US anyway. Who? Huh?
posted by dhartung at 10:11 AM on April 16, 2001


Boston is not only the center of the universe, it's the Hub of the universe.

It's a good thing the hub is in the center, otherwise the universe would get all wobbly.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:15 AM on April 16, 2001


It's a good thing the hub is in the center, otherwise the universe would get all wobbly.

Mine was an ill-conceived pun.
posted by MarkAnd at 10:21 AM on April 16, 2001


Ah, Hopkinton. As a reporter for the local paper, I once had to cover the annual painting of the official starting line. It was a really humid day, so after the highway department guys painted it, we (we being the highway guys, a bunch of kids from the local elementary school and me) had to stand there for, oh, 20 minutes or so before they could declare the thing done. Only time I ever got paid to watch paint dry.

Watching the race is great fun once the "elite" runners are safely out of the way and you can cheer on everybody else.

'Course, the real holiday here is Patriots Day - you don't know what fun is 'til you've gotten up before dawn so you can march with Minutemen to Concord and fight with the British - even if you always know who's going to win.
posted by agaffin at 10:23 AM on April 16, 2001


As far as I know, visually impared runners have someone running in front of them as a guide.

Do they periodically make beeping sounds or something?
posted by fooljay at 10:42 AM on April 16, 2001


They have Braille on the back of their T-Shirts that spell out "This Way"
posted by bondcliff at 10:44 AM on April 16, 2001


There are three people from my office running in the marathon today, and we're getting e-mail updates each time one of them passes a particular marker. All three are now past the halfway point. In fact, I just got another notice that one of them just reached the 30K marker.

The men's winner, btw, was a fellow named Bong-Ju Lee at 2:09:43. The women's winner was Catherine Ndereba at 2:23:52.
posted by briank at 11:46 AM on April 16, 2001


Yes, it's news. I haven't had ESPN on today, but I'm sure they're covering it. It was column one below the fold today in the St Pete (Florida) Times. A sidebar listed local participants.

New York *has* a marathon? :-)

The Boston Marathon is, in my perception, one of the top 10 sporting events in the world. Anyone wanna work on that list?

From an American standpoint, it starts with the Super Bowl; Europeans would probably start with the World Cup. Olympics, World Series, Indy, Daytona (24 Hours or 500, depending on your tastes), Stanley Cup, America's Cup, Boston Marathon, Hawaii Ironman, 12 Hours of Sebring (I'm a Floridian)... and that's all I can think of right now...
posted by baylink at 12:55 PM on April 16, 2001


Boston is not only the center of the universe, it's the Hub of the universe.

Wait a second, I was certain the universe revolved around me...
This is going to have a major impact on my ego.
posted by ktheory at 1:00 PM on April 16, 2001


ktheory, you'll be fine, you just have to move to Boston.
posted by MarkAnd at 1:02 PM on April 16, 2001


'Course, the real holiday here is Patriots Day - you don't know what fun is 'til you've gotten up efore dawn so you can march with Minutemen to Concord and fight with the British - even if you always know who's going to win.

Heh - or move to the house your mom grew up in in Stow; live across the street from a cemetary where Revolutionary War soldiers are buried; and be woken up by a musket salute at dawn because your mom thinks it'll be really funny to "forget" to warn you about this lovely tradition. Which of course I now miss.

As a displaced Bostonian (yes, Boston is the Hub of the Universe, but N. Virginia traffic is infinitely worse), I'm thrilled to see a thread on the Marathon. I said "the" Marathon - we all know New York doesn't count. Thanks for starting the thread, bondcliff.
posted by jennaratrix at 4:33 PM on April 16, 2001


My friend's dad was in the marathon and she got to follow him from here [Seattle] via the web in real time b/c of the chip thingie they put in his shoe.

MA has insanely bad traffic. One word: rotaries.

Speaking as someone who is planning to move to the house I grew up in in Boxboro [were we neighbors?] I do miss our idiotic Fifer's Day festivals, complete with greased pole climb and sack races.
posted by jessamyn at 12:22 AM on April 17, 2001


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