Monday, April 19, 2010

Lining up for the marathon

Right now, I'm sitting at my desk, surrounded by three other colleagues. One year ago at this very moment, I was in a panic, standing in line with many others trying for one final call of nature in a portable potty near the start of the Boston Marathon in suburba Hopkinton, Mass.

The most famous 26.2-mile race of them all starts at 9 a.m. central. A year ago, the weather matched what we're having in Amarillo this morning -- cool, cloudy and calm. Perfect weather conditions.

About 20,000 runners had taken school buses from downtown Boston around 6:30 a.m. the 26 miles west to Hopkinton. There we waited for a couple of hours lying around under tents, trying to relax, eating fruit, listening to music. At one point, I decided to get in line at a Hopkinton gym for a free massage. There were about 30 massage tables on the gym floor. I wasn't the only one as we wound our way through a meandering line. Took about an hour.

And later while wating in a long line among of a dozen portables, it was obvious I wasn't going to make it, especially with running buddy Paul Elms pointing at his watch. So I did what any country kid would do, took off and found an out-of-the-way clump of trees and then joined a sea of runners in two waves for the start.

The beginning of the traditional race, moved from noon to 10 a.m. eastern time several years ago, begins in about 10 minutes. For those 20,000 or so, it will be a time where they will run in front of nearly half a million cheering fans into downtown Boston. For one of the few times, they will feel just as important as the Kenyans leading the pack. And no matter how many times they've run it, it will be an experience they will carry for a long time.

Boston is a qualifying race based on age. No one can just decide to enter. You earn your way to Boston. So best of luck to the Amarilloans in the race: friends Dr. Charlie Hennesseey and Dr. Tony Stuart, and Kevin McClish and Jeff Allen, all of whom ran last year. Karen Roberts, owner of Get Fit running store on Georgia, will be lining up to run. So too will Andrea Blackmore, Janae McVean, and Andrew Reichard.

The oldest is Allen at 53. The youngest is Blackmore at 31. The weather will be cool, the wind will be at their back, and in four minutes, the masses will be taking off. I'm slightly jealous.

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