The marathon runners started to show up at the Eliot Lounge.
"The big jump came in 1975," Leonard says. "Billy Rodgers had won the Falmouth Road Race on the Cape a year earlier, beating Marty Liquori in a heck of a race. His car was towed after that race, and I helped him get it back. One thing led to another. I got him to come to the Eliot when he was in Boston. Then, in April of 1975, he wins the marathon in a record 2:09:55 and is asked on national television what he's going to do now that the race is finished. Billy says, Tm going to the Eliot to have a Blue Whale,' and that was it. The place has been crazy with runners ever since."
The motif is runner chic. Is there another bar in the country with a signed 24- by 42-inch full-color picture of Orlando Pizzolato on a wall? Is there another bar with a countdown calendar to the marathon—any marathon—on the wall, numbers changed daily? With Carl Lewis's record indoor long jump measured on the floor and the world high jump record measured on a wall? Is there another bar with the footprints and autographs of famous marathon runners in cement on the sidewalk outside?
"I have to get that cement mixture right," Leonard says. "There's a perfect mixture for footprints, and I bet that Chinese theater place in Hollywood has it. I have to call that place sometime."
The mailing list to attract runners on the day of the marathon has disappeared and, because of fire laws, the Eliot has become the site of a private, by-invitation-only race-day party. The lines outside on the days preceding and following the race have developed a Studio 54 quality. Studio 54 in sweatsuits.
"The year Joanie Benoit set the record?" Leonard says, referring to Benoit's 2:22:43 mark in 1983, "she stands outside in the line, waiting to get inside. Not a peep out of her. That's the kind of person she is. She wouldn't just go up to the guy on the door and tell him who she was. The guys on the door, they don't know anything about track and field. They didn't recognize her. I guess the same thing happened last year with Ingrid Kristiansen after she won the race."
"The trouble with the door," says one of the guys who is at the door, "is that everybody comes up to you and says that he knows Tommy Leonard. And the trouble is that everybody does."
Hereford Street...Boylston Street...The Prudential Center...The Hancock Tower...The Finish Line....
The garage is a normal garage. An engine is started and the sound is magnified. A door is slammed. A salesman drives around and around, looking for the right spot to park his car. A well-dressed woman with shopping bags from expensive stores wonders if she has parked her car on the Green Level or the Blue Level, the Red or the Orange. Which was it?
There is no indication that more exciting moments have occurred exactly where she walks.