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The Boston Globe

West

Communities along Marathon route getting more invitational bibs

Runners passed by in Hopkinton.

David L Ryan/Globe staff/File 2001

Runners passed by in Hopkinton.

Each community along the Boston Marathon route will get an increased number of invitational numbers for the 2014 race to give out to runners, and according to local officials, the entries are more in demand than ever.

“There is a buzz about this race. It’s on everyone’s mind,” said Melvin Kleckner, town administrator in Brookline, which was given 35 invitational numbers by the Boston Athletic Association, 10 more than for last spring’s event.

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“There is a strong commitment to celebrate the Marathon, to celebrate our freedom, and also to remember what happened last year and those who were lost,” he said.

The BAA has strict qualifying-time requirements for distributing its official entries, but it also gives out hundreds of invitational numbers with few restrictions to local communities, the more than 150 charities affiliated with the race, and its main sponsor, the John Hancock insurance company.

The total for next spring’s installment will include approximately 5,000 invitational numbers being given to runners who were not able to complete the race last spring because of the terrorist bombings at the finish line, as well as a limited number for those who were most impacted by the attack.

BAA executive director Tom Grilk said organizers are working closely with the communities along the route, as well as with state officials, to expand the field for the Patriots Day tradition.

Given the important cooperation that we have seen by the cities and towns, it only made sense for us to increase on a one-year basis the allocation of entries to our host communities,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.

The nonprofit organization, which launched the Boston Marathon in 1897, said its main requirement for the invitational numbers is that they go to individuals who will be able to complete the course in under 6½ hours.

While the BAA gives invitational numbers to charities to use as fund-raising tools, it leaves the distribution of the bibs, and any monetary requirements for receiving one, for the nonprofits to decide.

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In communities along the route, the invitational numbers are mostly awarded by lottery to applicants who pledge to raise money for local causes or charities.

Hopkinton, which takes its position as the race’s starting point very seriously, has 60 invitational numbers available, 15 more than for the last race, according to Jamie Hellen, operations assistant in the town manager’s office.

Selectmen are accepting applications from local organizations whose activities benefit the community, or whose members perform public services that benefit the town or the state. A random drawing will be held on Tuesday to decide which organizations receive invitational numbers, to be distributed as they choose, Hellen said.

Ashland held its drawing last month, when 25 invitational numbers were awarded to local runners committed to raising at least $2,500 for a community grant fund, according to Susan Robie, executive assistant in the town manager’s office.

“We had far more requests than usual,” she said. “A lot of people have their own personal stories for wanting to run in this one.”

Robie said groups apply for grants from the community fund, which in the past has supported local programs such as the Decisions at Every Turn Coalition, youth sports, exercise classes at the senior center, the food pantry, and the community garden.

“It’s really a great program, a lot of good comes from it,” she said.

Framingham received 25 invitational numbers for next spring’s race, to be held on April 19, and this year started a random selection process from a pool of town employees and residents willing to commit to raising at least $500 for a local charity. The team of runners was chosen last week.

The Board of Selectmen and Police Chief Brian Ferguson last month selected six local charities — the local Boys & Girls Club chapter, Framingham Education Foundation, Framingham Youth Initiative for the Arts, Friends of the Callahan Senior Center, Resiliency for Life, and Pearl Street Cupboard and Cafe — as recipients of the fund-raising effort.

Newton, which last week had not received word from the BAA about how many invitational numbers it will receive, is accepting applications from runners interested in receiving a number, according to Aaron Goldman, citizens assistance officer.

Goldman said the city typically gives numbers to runners raising money for charities of their choice. Interested runners can call City Hall to be included in a drawing, which has not been scheduled.

Brookline uses its numbers to raise money through Team Brookline, which brought in approximately $163,000 for four local charities last spring, according to the group’s website.

Team Brookline was established by the town as a collaborative fund-raising effort to raise money for the Brookline Community Mental Health Center, which manages the team; the Brookline Education Foundation; the Brookline Library Foundation, and the Brookline Teen Center.

In addition, several numbers are reserved for local public safety and public works employees, according to Kleckner.

“Those are the people on the ground level of the operation who make the race work,” he said.

Hopkinton received:

60 invitational numbers for 2014 Boston Marathon

45 invitational numbers for 2013

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eiskanian@gmail.com.

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