"Three years ago my dad suggested that since I had come here because of the marathon it might be a great idea if he and I both ran the race," Kirsten Daehler says. "I had never run two steps in my life, but we both went into training and we both qualified and we ran the race together two years ago. We crossed the finish line holding each other's hand."
"I think there is a difference in the appreciation of the event now," says Wellesley president Nannerl Keohane. "When I went here in 1960 and '61 it was a festival, a circus. I think more women now have run or have been involved in some physical exercise. I think there is a greater understanding of the event."
President Keohane joins her women of Wellesley, both at the Central Street curbside and in the cheering. She is a marathon regular, leaving her afternoon calendar open for the day. Five years ago she was able to cheer for her husband, a Harvard professor, as he struggled along the route.
"He got a good cheer when he came past, but he was running with one of our most popular economics professors," Keohane says. "I think most of the cheering was for the economics professor. I don't know how many of the women knew who my husband was."
No matter. Every man who runs the race is cheered at Wellesley. Young or old. Fast or slow. President's husband or not. Every man...and every woman.
"That's what no one ever seems to mention," Firth says, planning for that big picnic day with the Phi Gamma Delts. "The biggest cheer every year is for the first woman to run past Wellesley. The women usually get the biggest cheers of all."
Benetton...Community Playhouse (Closed)...Wellesley Hills...Rte. 128 Overpass...Newton-Wellesley Hospital...Newton Fire House, Station 2....
Runners. Freddy Lennon has seen runners. Do you want to talk about runners? You have come to the right place. Station 2, at Washington Street and Commonwealth Avenue, is the largest firehouse in Newton. The equipment sparkles. There are no calls at the moment. Runners are crazy. Ask Lennon.
Start anywhere. Start with the guy who showed up that one marathon day with the giant speakers.
"He wanted to play the song from that movie with fire in the title," Lennon says on this quiet afternoon.