You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.


Enemy mine

On Newton’s Heartbreak Hill, you’ll find runners rehearsing for the big show.

> To listen, go to How can you tell it’s Boston Marathon season? By the foot traffic along Commonwealth Avenue in Newton. In the weeks leading up to the race, especially on weekend mornings, its sidewalks and carriage lane fill with runners rehearsing for the big show. You can hear their huffing and panting, the impressive rhythm of their strides, and the slurp-slurp of their sneakers lifting off the asphalt. Some are lost in their ear buds; others inherit the sounds around them — spring bird song, the ebb and flow of traffic, the suburban peace. Not everyone out there pounding the pavement will run the 117th Boston Marathon, of course. But many surely will. And for those who do, the better they know the 26.2-mile course, the less intimidating it is, or so I’ve been told. That may be especially true for Heartbreak Hill, the legendary, punishing crest before the final descent into Boston. In other settings, familiarity may breed contempt. In this case, my sense is that familiarity is a good thing. Come Monday, those runners who have prepared most diligently may not be happy, exactly, to see Heartbreak Hill rising before them. But nor will they be surprised at her might.

Continue reading it below

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SOUNDS OF SPRING? Send ideas to or via Twitter @swhelman.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of