Boston Marathon: Pros, celebrities and the regulars all shine
A year after wind-blown rain soaked Boston Marathon fans and athletes alike, Rod Colburn watched his wife run Framingham's section of the course yesterday in partial sunshine and temperatures a bit too sweat-inducing.
``It's a little warmer than she'd like, but she's doing all right,'' said the Connecticut resident, holding up one of his wife's golf clubs with a furry, cat-like cover on it so she could spot him on the sidelines.
But while the thermometer hit the 60s during the 112th annual Marathon, Kenyan runner Robert Cheruiyot had no problem taking home his second consecutive title - and his fourth overall - in the men's race, finishing in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 46 seconds and passing fans like Benjamin Ngugi.
Ngugi, a fellow countryman who now lives in Medfield, saw Cheruiyot and other frontrunners fly past while standing in Natick Center with his wife and three children.
``We come every time,'' he said. ``I want my kids to see the runners and show them that determination pays off.''
Other top finishers included women's winner Dire Tune of Ethiopia at 2 hours, 25 minutes, 25 seconds; men's wheelchair winner Ernst Van Dyk at 1 hour, 26 minutes, 49 seconds; and women's wheelchair winner Wakako Tsuchida at 1 hour, 48 minutes, 32 seconds. Tune won in the closest women's finish in race history - just two seconds ahead of the 2nd-place finisher - while Van Dyk won a record seventh time and Tsuchida repeated as champion. The winners and other top athletes split a record $796,000 purse, with Cheruiyot and Tune each taking home $150,000.
The field's 25,000 runners also included astronaut Suni Williams, former acting Gov. Jane Swift and Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who drew the crowd's attention throughout the day.
At the Hopkinton starting area, Westborough resident Brett Rutledge, a serious cyclist himself, strained for a look at the Armstrong, ``To see how big he is compared to me,'' Rutledge said.
Although he had the crowd's support, Armstrong said he found Newton's legendary Heartbreak Hill challenging, despite hearing from some before the race that it was overrated.
``They were wrong,'' Armstrong said shortly after finishing his first Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 50 minutes, 58 seconds - about 43 minutes off Cheruiyot's pace.
Other athletes had more modest goals.
``I just hope we finish,'' said Emily Lynch, a 23-year-old from Sudbury joining friend Katelyn Loporto in their first Boston Marathon. Lynch and the 25-year-old Acton native, both sporting pigtails for good luck, hatched their plan to run after meeting at Boston University Medical School.
``We shared the same cadaver,'' Lynch said. She ended up crossing the finish line in just over five hours, with Loporto about half an hour behind.
At the other end of the experience spectrum was 51-year-old Framingham resident Bill Turner, a veteran of about 20 marathons who was cheered on by his significant other, Jane Plourde, and his sister, Tammie Flacco, on Waverly Street.
``He always says, `This is the last one,''' said Flacco, who drove down from Maine.
Others, like Brooke Pollock, a 1999 Framingham High School graduate, ran for a cause. Her friend David ``Basil'' Barass died in December of leukemia, inspiring her to join the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Team to raise money, said her sister, Beth Pollock, as she cheered on her sibling.
While Framingham resident Julia Ide couldn't run this year - she is eight months pregnant - she came out to support her friend Holly Perreault, an athlete who had to start using a wheelchair three years ago and still struggles with multiple sclerosis.
``It's an amazing story,'' Ide said.
Rejoining the wheelchair division after a one-year absence was iconic father-and-son team Dick and Rick Hoyt of Hopkinton. With Dick Hoyt pushing his son to raise money for charity, the two have raced for more than 20 years, but could not last year because of an infection in the younger Hoyt's legs.
Asked what it was like to be back, Dick Hoyt said, ``It's awesome.''
Along the course, the athletes were helped by race volunteers. In Ashland, as in the seven other towns and cities along the course, workers arrived hours before the first marathoners left Hopkinton to set up tables filled with thousands of paper cups of water and Gatorade.
After the mass of athletes came and went, Framingham resident and former Marathon runner Richard Cresmore took stock of the fluid station he directed near the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Union Street.
``It went very well,'' he said. ``I guess we had about 25,000 runners, but it didn't seem like it.''
Meanwhile, just past the 18-mile marker in Newton, 14 members of a medical team treated injured athletes at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Commonwealth Avenue, providing massages for cramped legs, Icy Hot for sprains and sunscreen to avoid burns.
Despite the large field this year, supervisor Mike Tyron, an EMT from Western Massachusetts, said the group had seen cramps but few serious injuries.
``As far as what we've seen in other years, it's been a fairly quiet year,'' he said.
At the finish line in Boston, crowds line the course three and four deep to cheer on those able to finish.
Bentley College senior Dan Badavus, running in his second marathon, attributed his success to the legendary cheering section from Wellesley College.
``The Wellesley girls - it was just deafening,'' he said. ``The noise just gets you going, and you can feel the adrenaline surging.''
While it may have been Jason Bodnar's fourth time running Boston, the North Carolina resident said the experience remained invigorating.
``Words don't do it justice,'' he said. ``You hear golfers talk about the Masters - this is our Masters.''
Other finishers included Framingham brothers Mikhail Volfson, 45, and Lev Volson, 56.
When asked back at the starting line who would finish first, Mikhail Volfson pointed at his older brother, who insisted they ran ``the same speed.''
Lev Volfson finished in roughly 4 hours, 34 minutes, 10 minutes ahead of his younger sibling.
Staff writers Matt Lynch, John Hilliard, Dan McDonald, Charlie Breitrose, Jeff Gilbride and Peter Reuell contributed to this article.
Michael Morton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-626-4338.
The MetroWest Daily News