That summer feeling!
By Bill Donnelly
When first we met, I was writing about the joys of training through a particularly cold Buffalo Winter with friends who were planning to run a spring marathon. Most were preparing for the Boston Marathon, which was held on Monday, April 19.
Wouldn’t you know it, after training in all that miserable freezing weather, the officials in charge of the Boston Marathon apparently struck a deal with the Devil himself, and imported excess heat from the nether regions of Hades. Just for good measure, old Lucifer threw in strong winds that came straight out of all the pizza ovens in
. Wow, what a scorcher that Monday turned into! Buffalo
Fortunately for me, I wasn’t running in this year’s race, but I was there to cheer on my friends, and to share with them in their success. I also wanted to enjoy a few barely-malt beverages while all of them were hydrating on water and Gatorade.
At the 1976 Boston Marathon the temperature was 96 degrees at the start, and that race was called “the run for the hoses” for obvious reasons. There was a sea breeze that year, so the last few miles were run in much cooler 60 degree temperatures, but of course the damage was already done. About 40% of those runners did not finish. This year it was 83 at the beginning, got as high as 87, and was still 85 degrees at the finish line. The strong hot tail wind just made things worse.
As I waited at the
25 mile mark by , I quickly realized I wouldn’t see any of my friends come by in the times they had hoped to run. What, you ask, tipped me off besides the heat and my amazing powers of reasoning? The Kenyans, those bird-like creatures from the hot continent who had dominated Fenway Park for fifteen years, were struggling mightily. What chance did the penguin-like creatures from the cold planet of Boston have? As most people know, the city of Buffalo was not named after the beasts of the plains, but rather it was the Seneca Indians who named the area with the word that meant to them “Gosh, I wish we could move to Buffalo for the winter!” Miami
When the crowds began to pass me, I had trouble picking everyone out. I finally spotted Tom Appenheimer at into the race with a mile to go. He is much faster than that. Dan Loncto, a potential three hour marathoner came by at 3:50, and Diane McGuire came by with Bob Honan on pace for a 4:23 marathon, over 40 minutes behind what they were capable of. Rhea Tard’s time of 4:28 was just behind her sister-in-law Leah, and they were both behind Leah’s brother and Rhea’s Husband, Must (a Scandinavian name, I believe).
A few runners such as Fred Lew, Jennifer Hulme, Heather Patterson, Maureen LaChiusa, and Pattie Paul could feel good about their run as they were all within a half hour of what they had hoped to do. Then there were those such as Heather’s husband, Kevin, who finished, but ended up in the medical tent with an IV in his arm for two hours. The thing all these runners had in common was that they were all victorious just for finishing.
Perhaps the best performance of the day belonged to Dick Sullivan, the 75 year old Founder of the Belle Watling AC, and who was running his 29th Boston Marathon. It is said that when he ran his first, the official starter was Paul Revere. I’m not sure that this is true, but it was away back in 1973 that he first toed the starting line for
. Having run 28 straight Bostons, he had run his last in 2000. Boston
He qualified for this year’s race with a last May. I must say I was a bit worried about him as the other runners staggered past me. I shouldn’t have worried. I didn’t see him go by, but when next I saw him, he was smiling to beat the band. He broke five hours by a few seconds and he was feeling pretty darn good. With Sully, it was the old Irish saying: “May the road rise up to meet your feet, and may you reach the finish line before the Devil knows you ran.” Well, it’s something like that.