Metro

Umbrellas for spectators, kisses for runners in Wellesley

The crowd in Wellesley was significantly smaller than last year, but the women at Wellesley College were still screaming, and fans along Washington Street still made plenty of noise from under their umbrellas.

Despite the weather, Miriam Christof said she just had to come out this year to be a part of the Boston Marathon.

“It’s not a race, it’s different, it’s about showing the world that this is about Boston Strong, about survival and moving forward,” said Christof, a native of Cologne, Germany, who has lived with her family in Wellesley for the past six years.

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“I really feel a difference in the atmosphere here. Boston transformed after what happened two years ago. It went from being a city to being a community,” she said.

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Christof was watching by Wellesley College, where students were standing behind barriers where more than 400 of their handmade signs hung.

In a tradition of the route, “Scream Tunnel” created by the enthusiastic students is also known for the kisses shared between runners and fans.

“Some of them just kiss you on the lips and keep running, others actually take a second, look at you, then kiss you,” said a giggling Sabrina D’Souza, a senior who grew up in Allston watching the race from Coolidge Corner.

Sophomore Lisamaria Arias grew up in Maryland hearing about the race, but never experienced it until arriving at Wellesley College.

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“It’s really incredible, I love it,” she said, admitting to getting a few kisses in the scream tunnel this year.

Despite the obvious police presence, Arias said she wasn’t thinking about security.

“For me, I would never let what happened two years ago influence me, or make me feel scared, because that would mean they won,” she said.

Military police and members of the New York City Police Department’s bomb squad walked with their dogs could be seen up and down the route through downtown Wellesley.

They walked right by a group of Japanese tourists too busy cheering to even notice.

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“Of course the runners and fans from Japan know what happened two years ago, but no one feels afraid,” said Eishan Maki, who translates for the group. “We don’t feel any threat at all, security is very tight, it is very secure.”

The group was here to cheer on 18 Japanese runners, including 80-year-old Koji Tsuchiya.

Tour Leader Shino Sugiyama travels around the world from marathon to marathon with groups of runners and fans.

“The cheering here is what makes this different, the people’s involvement,” Tsuchiya said, according to Maki’s translation. “Other marathons don’t have this tradition.”

Wellesley Police Officer Evan Rosenberg was working his first Boston Marathon this year after running the past four.

Two years ago he was just turning onto Boylston Street when the bombs went off.

“Initially I didn’t know what happened, but obviously I was concerned about my wife and kids who were waiting for me at the finish line,” he said.

They were unhurt, but it was more than two and a half hours before they found each other.

He ran and finished the race last year. “It was very emotional,” he said. “And it’s just as emotional this year.”

When asked if he was nervous this morning about what could happen while on duty, Rosenberg shook his head no.

“I know what my job is,” he said.

Pei Le, of LeTV.com, a media outlet from Beijing, said the Boston Marathon became very significant in China after the bombings.

“Of course because Lingzi Lu was one of the victims,” he said, adding that he had gone to see the finish line last night.

Le said there are many Chinese runners now training for marathons and running in honor of Lingzi Lu.

Some members of Le’s group covered the starting line, and others were in Boston.

Le said he chose to be at Wellesley College.

“Of course, I’ve heard of the kiss me place,” he said.

While the cold weather put a damper on spectators enthusiasm, members of the Wellesley Fire Department who were grilling some hot dogs at the downtown station, said the cold had one benefit.

It was helping keep the number of medical calls down.

They feared that a hot day would be trouble for area marathoners who have not had many warm days for training.

“This stretch is usually when things start to get busy,” said Firefighter Bryon Beckwith, because it is about the midway point of the race. By 12:30, they said, just one call had come into the four Wellesley medical aid stations.

For Jessica McKinney, Gail Cormier and their extended families, the Marathon has been an important part of their lives for decades.

Cormier’s husband, Larry who grew up along the route in Natick, ran his ninth marathon Monday, 40 years after running his first as a 19-year-old.

“He always knew he would do another one, but after what happened two years ago it was a definite,” Gail Cormer said. “He had to run two marathons to get a time, but he qualified. The Marathon is so special to us, he had to do it.”

McKinney, there to cheer on Cormier, said she has rarely missed a Boston Marathon, but happened to be in Kenmare, Ireland two years ago.

“There were people from that village in Boston running the Marathon,” she said.

“My husband was wearing his Red Sox hat, and when people realized we were from Boston they would come over and say they were sorry, they would offer their condolences,” she said. “It was really something.”

On the night after the bombings, they went out to eat.

“A man saw our hats and bought us our dinner because we were from Boston,” she said. “The Marathon is special.”