Tuesday, April 19, 2005

109th Boston Marathon

Yesterday, Catherine "the Great" Ndereba won the women's race at the Boston Marathon for the fourth year straight. At one point she was a minute and 20 seconds behind the leaders. Amazingly, she started her surge in the hilliest part of part of the course and gained the lead at the crest of Heartbreak Hill. Her time of 2:25:13 was almost two minutes faster than that of second place Elfenesh Alemu.

An Ethiopian man won the men's race for the first time in 16 years. Hailu Negussie ran with the lead pack for the first 20 miles. After the Newton hills, he surged ahead and the race was his. His 2:11:45 time was almost a full minute ahead of the second place finisher.

Another big story in the men's race was Alan Culpepper's fourth place finish. This was the best finish for an American man since 1987. It was thrilling to follow Culpepper's progress -- especially as he passed two runners in the last two miles.

I spent most the day in the media room at the Fairmont Hotel in Copley square. My two sisters, my brother and I were volunteers on the Leader Board. This is a huge whiteboard flanked by video screens. Reporters from several major newspapers and magazines sit in front of the board and watch the race unfold. As split times came in from the course, we wrote them on the board.

This was a great way to experience the race. Even better, we were dismissed at around 2:30 and spent the next few hours in the bleachers near the finish line. We watched as thousands of runners sprinted, wobbled, strutted, walked or crawled across the finish line. The photo above is from the finish line on Bolyston St.

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