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More than 100 golden retrievers will cross the Boston Marathon finish line the day before the race. Here’s why.

Spencer (left) and Penny recently died eight days apart, both from cancer. The two golden retrievers were fixtures along the Boston Marathon route for several years.The Henry Studio

More than 100 golden retrievers and their owners will walk to the finish line of the Boston Marathon the day before the race in honor of Spencer, the Marathon’s official dog, who died in February.

The canine conclave on Sunday will celebrate Spencer, who went viral in a 2018 video that showed him holding “Boston Strong” flags in his mouth as runners passed by in the rain. Spencer had been going to watch the marathon near Ashland State Park since 2014, and Penny, his owner’s other dog, was often seen by his side along the Marathon route.


Spencer was was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in September 2022. He died on Feb. 17, and Penny died eight days later, also of cancer.

“Every day that Spencer was here with us he was beating the odds exponentially,” his owner, Rich Powers, wrote in a Facebook post on Feb. 21. “We have enjoyed sharing our special gift with you all. He has been an inspiration to hundreds of thousands of people.”

In a tweet that same day, the Boston Athletic Association said Spencer’s “spirit and determination” was inspiring to all.

A billboard on Route 126 in Ashland now features larger-than-life photos of Spencer and Penny, along with the slogan “FOREVER BOSTON STRONG.”

The 1-mile walk event on Sunday is being organized by a local group called MA Golden Meetups.

According to the group’s website, the walk will start at 10 a.m. from outside the Park Street MBTA station at Boston Common and end at the Boston Marathon finish line, the website states.

Dog owners were required to RSVP in advance of the event, and as of April 7, organizers were no longer accepting new registrations because the attendance limit had been reached.


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Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.