Monday, April 18, 2011

Boston Marathon

This is my third year working the Mile 18 water stop at the Boston Marathon. It's hard work but a rewarding job.

We got there shortly before 8:30 am to start preparations. First order of business is lining plastic trash cans with plastic liners, dumping in a few pounds of ice and adding a second liner which we then fill with large jugs of water. With the tables set up and water ready to go (the people at the other end were mixing gatorade, but I prefer the water tables), we were called in by our fearless leader who gave final instructions, passes out our jackets and set us to task.

Our stop had 4 Gatorade tables and 6 water tables. We worked in pairs and trios to fill cups and build it three or four layers high. When we were done, it was hurry up and wait.

First sign of life - a lone soldier in full gear just after 10 am. Shortly behind him came a company of folks from the Yankee Division. Then the excitement really started as the wheelchairs came flying through. those babies can move and it never ceases to amaze me how fast these folks really are. Finally it was time for the runners. Kim Smith passed so closely that I could have touched her, followed by the knot of elite women.

The elites don't normally take water from us, they power past towards the big incline of Heartbreak Hill. We cheered them on. It wasn't long before the men's timing and press trucks passed. The tightly knotted pack with Ryan Hall in the lead blew right past.

Now it was time for the runners. The waves started and we screamed encouragement and "water, we have water here..." to let runners know. (They need to know if they are going for water or gatorade). For the next few hours it was shoulder to shoulder folks. I was one of the folks running back and froth from the table to the "I have water here!" folks.

Right around noontime, I could see the carpet of cups starting to build up. I jumped from my runner position to clean up duty. A rake in hand, I began raking up the cups to inside the white breakdown lane line so runners had a clearer road to run down. For close to two hours I raked until someone gave me a break and I held the trash bag while she raked.

Just after the 2 o'clock mark, my brother came through. He looked tired but good and he stopped for a moment to chat before heading off on his way.

At 3 o'clock the police came through telling us they were going to reopen the course shortly. By then we had cleaned up much of the mess. Once more people broke down their tables and jumped on raking duty, we had both sides of the road looking better than we found them. By 3:30 we had finished the final walk looking fore empty gu containers, cups and other trash.

We all headed out for some beer and lunch Another year in the books . There were plenty of costumed characters - lots of easter bunnies (the small children near us did count the and called one toward the end "bunny number seven" so I guess there were at least seven or eight bunnies; a gorilla, french fry, several ballerinas (male and female), Elvis and a few others showed up to give us a laugh between our yelling "water, water.....) and a moment to breathe.

All in all a good day for a race. One year I'll run Boston, but for now I'll be content to run Comm Ave in the wither and pretend to feel a victory.

Good job Boston runners, you're all winners today.

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