I lived immediately adjacent to the Boston Marathon route for 3 years at Boston College without once seeing it. The Marathon literally ran past my front door – both at Castle Greyskull and Sketchy-Six – and I couldn’t be bothered to watch. This year I remedied that.
I caught the 86 at about quarter to ten, taking it from Union Square to three blocks shy of Chestnut Hill Ave. At that point the driver kicked us off, so I walked the rest of the way. I saw the men’s wheelchair competition speed by as I walked downhill and snuck aboard an empty C Line train.
J. (whom I work with) had a keg of Magic Hat and french toast in the oven when I arrived at her place, just behind the St. Mary’s T stop. More friends and coworkers trickled in over the next hour. We stepped out briefly to watch the two leading female runners – Russian Alevtina Biktimirova and Final Fantasy villain Dire Tune – sprint past, then returned indoors for breakfast.
The bulk of the pack hit our stretch by about noon, so we filed into the street to cheer them on. A weird, friendly anarchy prevails on Marathon Monday. Cops lined the street, but so long as you keep your beverage in a red SOLO cup they’d never bother you. The spectators cheered total strangers, urging them to stay strong until the finish, but mercilessly booed girls who darted across the street in drunken packs, clotting up the Marathon’s main artery.
Anyone can cheer on an athlete, but being inches away from marathoners gives you the opportunity to cheer and be recognized. I would yell wild sports cliches at every runner I saw, calling them out by what they wore. “Yeah, Dana Farber!” I cried, for a team that ran for the titular cancer institute. “One more mile! You got it!” Watching them tilt their heads wearily and raise their hand in a salute made my afternoon.
“Come on, Children’s! Come on, Tufts! Keep it moving.”
“That’s it, Mass General! One mile! Gimme one mile!”
“It’s actually a mile point two,” someone corrected me, at one point. Probably an MIT grad.
But the high point of the day came when an older guy, already well tanned from the gorgeous day, hit my stretch walking and left it running. “One more mile,” I screamed at him. “Come on! Give me one more! You’re almost there!” I’d like to believe I made the difference for that one guy.
I got a bit of a sunburn but I can’t complain.