SI Vault
 
One More Time up Heartbreak Hill
Bill Higgins
April 01, 1991
In two weeks, 83-year-old Johnny Kelley will run in his 60th Boston Marathon, a race he first won in 1935
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 01, 1991

One More Time Up Heartbreak Hill

In two weeks, 83-year-old Johnny Kelley will run in his 60th Boston Marathon, a race he first won in 1935

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3

If all goes well, Kelley will need about five hours to complete Boston this year, but no matter how long he's out there, loyal fans of the race never leave until they have escorted him home. The winner runs Boston in about 2:08 these days, but the race isn't official for thousands of spectators until Kelley crosses the finish line.

The consummate amateur, Kelley doesn't begrudge today's top runners the prize money and endorsements they get. "In my day you ran Boston for a medal and a bowl of beef stew," he says. "That's the way it was, and I was happy to do it. Now things are different, and I think it's wonderful.

"Somebody said to me that the older you grow, the better they take care of you, and I guess it's true. But I don't feel old. I'm 83 and I have a beautiful wife and I'm healthy. That's the greatest reward."

On April 15, Kelley will claim his special spot in Hopkinton and add another page to a remarkable r�sum�. "I'll do my best to finish, but if I don't make it, I won't apologize to anybody," he says. "I'll try to get by on my experience. I think I have enough of that."

1 2 3