I started going to the Boston Marathon to watch back in the mid-70's when my oldest brother decided he wanted to do something big before he turned 30. He was a bandit runner and we waited near my uncle's house just past Wellesley College. Over the years, my brother continues to run Boston. The years he couldn't, usually due to injury, my sister-in-law would have to book a vacation and get him to leave town so he wouldn't jump in at the last minute. We continue to watch. After my uncle moved, we waited at Newton City Hall, Cleveland Circle and up near the top of Heartbreak Hill just before BC.
Some years he finished, some he didn't. This year would mark the 30th time he ran Boston.
For the past three years, my youngest son and I work at the Mile 18 water stop, giving aid and encouragement to runners while waiting to cheer on my brother and others we know who run the course. Some of them qualify, some of them get numbers through running clubs, like L Street, some are charity racers and some political. We cheer for people with names on shirts, we cheer for things written on shirts, chests, hats or anything else distinctive. I always consider my "job" an honor, it's our way of giving back to the people who worked hard and trained to be there.
Before things get really hopping, you can get photos of leaders. By the time some of the favorites come through: Joan Benoit Samuelson, the Hoyts, etc.; we're too busy to snap away.
But I always take a minute to get one of my brother. :)
Setting up the water stop at Mile 18 with Gatorade in the front and six water tables behind, the other side of the road is about 100 yards before our stop to keep things moving. This is after we got the initial set up done:
Our first soldier in full gear came through at 10:08 am:
The Yankee Division wasn't too far behind him:
The first male wheelchair racer went flying through:
The first Women's wheelchair racer was also amazingly fast:
Kim Smith, when she still had a comfortable lead:
and the rest of the elite women's pack:
Usually the women are on the opposite side of the road, we were surprised and shocked they passed so closely this year.
The elite men with Ryan Hall in the lead:
My son (left) and my big brother (right) :)
Now that my brother is retired, he is working for a group called "Back on my feet," an organization that promotes self-sufficiency to the homeless by building confidence and self-esteem through running. He also coaches kids locally with Dreamfar, which does the same thing with high school kids who tend to fall between the cracks and are struggling. He'll run a bunch of marathons with those folks, coaching people through. He'll run some others for himself.
One thing this son and I have in common, we dream of running like our big brothers who have a natural gait and talent for this. All of us love getting out there for a little while where it's us and the pavement and nothing else.