With the 2010 Boston Marathon two weeks away, I chose to post this memory. Enjoy!
In April 2006, I had the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon. I was able to run the marathon thanks to a friend who is a Massachusetts State Police Trooper.
As most of you know, the Boston Marathon is the premier marathon in the world. The history, the tradition, the runners. There is not another sport where you are able to participate and compete against world class athletes on their field. For the average person this equates to the World Series, Super Bowl or Daytona 500.
The field of runners is stacked with "elite" runners from throughout the world. In addition to these gifted runners many celebrities run each year. Actors, actresses, sports figures, politicians all want the spotlight.
I can recall my journey from Hopkinton to Boston like it was yesterday. Initially, I was overwhelmed by the fact that I was running the Boston Marathon. My footsteps were following those of immortals who have made the run.
There are so many highlights along the course, the Wellsley College "girls", Heartbreak Hill, Kenmore Square and Fenway Park. The last highlight before the finish line are the two final turns, fondly noted on t-shirts and bumper stickers. "Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston", words that send chills down a participants spine.
As I approached these turns I was tired, my IT band was screaming in pain, but I wasn't going to give up, not on this hallowed ground. My goal of finishing the Boston Marathon was less than one-half mile from finality. As I turned "right on Hereford", I saw a mass of humanity packing the one block run up to Boylston Street. All along the course over one million spectators cheer you on. On this short, narrow street there were hundreds, if not thousands of screaming fans. Every shout, scream, clap of the hands or cowbell helped propel me forward. As I scanned the crowd, I became aware they were not cheering directly for me, but for a runner who was coming up behind me. Who could it be? Which celebrity would I get a glance of, or cross the finish line one small step ahead of them? At the top of Hereford Street, I made the "left on Boylston". Making the ninety degree turn allowed me to glance over my shoulder to see who was inspiring all of the cheering. I could not miss his bright yellow running outfit. So bright on a day that was gray and overcast. I recognized him immediately for his years in baseball. The bright yellow reminded me of the uniforms worn by the Pittsburgh Pirates of the 70's. Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, the "We Are Family" team that went on to win the World Series. I was in the shadow of a baseball legend! As he passed me, my first response was to nod in acknowledgement of his presence. Then my attitude changed to one of disappointment. No, not that a fellow competitor was passing me. Not that I wouldn't be along side of him as he crossed the finish line. I saw his yellow colors moving further and further into the distance.
As the question from the "Lone Ranger" television show ended every episode, so will it here.
"Who was that masked man?"
He was the "San Diego Chicken".