Dispatches from the Boston Marathon route

Dispatches from along the Boston Marathon route, by the Globe staff.

NATICK — Businesses along Main Street in Natick Center, less than a block away from the Marathon route, flourished today: Comella’s, a popular Italian pizza and sub shop, had a constant line during lunchtime, and managers at Java’s Espresso Bar and Cafe said they saw triple the revenue from the event than a normal weekday.

“We’ve been here for 17 years,” said Java’s Cafe manager James Shapiro, “and there have been more people here for this Marathon than there has been for a while.”

As afternoon temperatures rose into the 60s, runners thinned out along the course in Natick, as did the crowd that had clogged the sidewalks of Route 135 for hours during the morning.


That didn’t stop Kate Sullivan of Natick, clad in an electric blue Boston Strong shirt, from whole-heartedly cheering on runners from the sidelines.

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“I come every year, but it was particularly important to come this year,” she said as she continued clapping for straggling runners. “It was absolutely devastating last year, that anyone would take advantage of such a great event like that.”

Sullivan said she felt safe at this year’s race, given the 2013 events, and pointed out that she saw more spectators in Natick than in previous years.

“I only hope there’s as much support from people every year,” she said.

As the last Marathon competitors brought up the race’s rear just after 2 p.m., volunteers began raking and shoveling hundreds of discarded water cups into trash barrels. Public Works employees curled up the yellow barricade rope and towed away the orange cones. Natick Center’s sidewalks emptied, and normal traffic resumed along Route 135.


A few moments after 2:49 p.m., when the bombs exploded last year, two women continued to sit leisurely together in their fold-up chairs along the Marathon route, watching as zooming cars replaced the morning’s zooming runners.



WELLESLEY — The Scream Tunnel is more like a corridor. Students and visitors stood on the college side of Route 135.

Some Wellesley girls wore the official white-and-blue Wellesley Scream Tunnel 2014 T-shirts. Others wore tank tops and flipflops, and leaned over the barriers, screaming for a kiss.


Freshman Brenna Carber, 19, stood waving a sign, “Kiss Me, I’m a Vegas Girl.” She learned quickly that scream-and-kiss is not for the faint of heart.

“I need some water,” Carber said, taking a break just after noon. “I need to get ready for Round Two.”

Senior Abby Kanyer, 22, a chemistry major from Milwaukee, waved a sign reading, “Kiss Me if You (heart) Beer.”

Several runners planted kisses right on her lips.

“Guys love beer,” Kanyer said with a laugh.

She insisted the runners were responding to her crafty message, and not her spaghetti-strap camisole. “I had a sweater over it, but it got hot,” said Kanyer, an aspiring brewer.

All the screaming and kissing is a time-honored tradition at Wellesley, known for educating smart, strong women.

Kanyer thinks the tragedy at last year’s marathon drew more students out to cheer this year.

“I feel like the students really rallied to get out here today,” she said.

Earlier, as they leaned over metal barricades, Wellesley students rang tiny cowbells and shouted into small blue megaphones bearing a “W.” They waved signs, and cheered for motorcycle cops and State Police vans patrolling the route.

But the loudest cheers came when the first elite women runners passed by after 10 a.m. They drew appreciative smiles and a few handslaps from runners.

“Go, ladies!” one male spectator shouted.

As the elite male runners arrived at 11 a.m. the screams and bells grew louder and longer. There were plenty of kisses on offer.

Tildy Banker-Johnson, 22, of Falmouth, waved a sign reading. “Kiss me. I’m a red-headed senior.”

“I’ve gotten one kiss so far from a camera guy,” Banker-Johnson said, referring to the media, just after 10 a.m.

In 2012, Banker-Johnson collected 57 kisses, her personal best. “I’ve gotten them on my lips and cheeks from runners who stopped,” said Banker-Johnson, who has flowing red hair. “But if they’re just running by, they can land anywhere. I’ve gotten them on my eyes, glasses” — and other body parts she declined to identify.

Gabbie Van Tassel, 19, a sophomore from Frederick, Md., had pretty good luck collecting kisses last year, when she waved a sign “Kiss Me. I’m sexually frustrated.”

This year, she used the sign again, but added the word “still.”


Enthusiastic crowds at Wellesley College


FRAMINGHAM — Few in Framingham could claim a personal connection to as many runners as 7-year-old Alexander Teixeira, who stood in a relatively calm spot along the race route with his left arm outstretched to catch the hand of any runner in need of a little encouragement.

About an hour into his effort, Alexander estimated the number of hands that clapped his as “maybe ... 1,289.”

His mother, Bruna Brollo, and 5-year-old brother Emmanuel observed from a few feet away.

“He’s holding his arm because he’s been doing it for so long his arm’s getting sore,” Brollo said with a laugh.

“Alexander loves sports and he’s very outgoing,” she added.

Earlier, a few hundred yards down the road, runner Todd Green stopped to hug his wife and their three children, ages 8, 11, and 13. “You want to come with me?” he asked the children.

An avid runner who has run the Marathon several times, Green last ran alongside wife Cindy Green in 1996.

Cindy Green began to tear up as she explained that the family lives in Pittsburgh, but she is from Boston, and they wanted to come back this year as a tribute to the city and the institution of the Boston Marathon.

“This is the king of the marathons. This is the special one,” she said. “I really wanted my kids to see it because in Pittsburgh people do support the marathon, but it’s not like this.”

Hundreds lined the route, clapping and cheering as athletes with disabilities wheeled and ran by, many on prosthetic legs.

The first cluster of the elite women passed the Framingham commuter rail station at 10:05 a.m., drawing whoops and wild applause.

Elena Brini, 36, had come all the way from Milan, Italy, to cheer on fiancé Carlo Parazzoli.

She said Parazzoli, 49, had last run in Boston several years prior but was drawn back after the events of last year.

She explained that no crowds gather to witness the marathons in Rome and Milan, where residents mostly complain about streets being shut down to vehicular traffic. “Here, it is the opposite way around.”


Crowds cheered for Marathon runners in downtown Framingham.
Bill Greene / Globe staff
Crowds cheered for Marathon runners in downtown Framingham.


ASHLAND — Three-year-old Caden Kendall and his dad Paul Kendall were perched atop a ladder holding two handmade signs, “BOSTON” and “STRONG” painted in the familiar blue and yellow colors of the Boston Marathon.

Runner after runner looked up, shouted the words, raised a fist, gave a thumbs up, or nodded toward the two along the road just shy of the three-mile mark in Ashland.

“It’s really been special to see,” said Tricia Kendall, who made the signs last night for her family to hold.

“There is a different energy this year,” said Jeff Morris who grew up in a house on the route and hasn’t missed a race in decades.

“This year they all have something different to run for, you can feel it, it’s obvious,” he said.

Steven Pierce has a long tradition of watching the race with a big bunch of friends who gather at a home along the route in Ashland.

“This is our seventh year,” he said.

When asked whether this year will be special, Pierce simply unzipped his down vest to reveal his T-shirt.

“Dorchester Strong,” it reads.

Pierce lives right off Peabody Square in Dorchester, not far from the Richard family, whose son, Martin, died in the bombings.

“It’s going to be emotional,” he said. “I can’t believe it’s been a year. It felt good to be a part of that community [in Dorchester], where everyone really cares about each other.”



BROOKLINE — Shruti Saraf, a manager at TD Bank, handed out yellow and gold pins. She took them out of a clear plastic bag and pinned them on T-shirts and fleece jackets. In between, she rings a black cowbell.

“Lots of people want these, especially the Boston Strong,” Saraf, who works in Brighton and lives in Brookline, said around noon, after waves of elite runners had breezed through.

She recalled how everything was shut down last year after the bombings. The area was quiet and desolate. Fear loomed. But not this year. Washington Square thumps with people.

“I love this,” she said. “The energy is perfect.”

The crowds had gone ballistic as the female elite runners started going by around 11:35. They shook their cowbells even harder and screamed louder under a warm sky.

Sisters Christine and Mary Ellen Laura of West Roxbury held a blue sign made for their niece Laura Wiatt. They planned to wave it when she passed. It had leopard-print duct tape and three cut-out hearts. One was red.

After last years’s bombing, Wiatt was inspired to run, her aunt said.

Just then a pack of servicemembers ran by. One was lagging and walking.

“Come on, sergeant!” yelled Doug Mitchell of Newton.

Mitchell ran Saturday with a band of military members called Tough Ruck, who run with heavy backpacks. They used to run in the marathon but couldn’t do it this year because of the stricter rules.

When he saw the soldier lagging, Mitchell’s voice rose again.

“It’s important to me because it was something I can do,” he said. “I want them to know they are remembered. And we still care.”

The elite male runners seemed to sprint by. The crowd roared with each passing athlete.

“Such a sight to behold, “ Christine Laura said. “The smells, the sight, the scenery. It’s a sign the city is coming together.”



NEAR THE FINISH LINE — Colleen Piccone, 62, of Rochester, N.Y., was standing in the shadow of the “photo bridge” at the finish line today with her daughter, Kelley Monachino, 33.

Piccone ran last year’s Marathon but was stopped before she could finish. She had less than a mile to go. “My Garmin said 25.81” miles, she said.

But she didn’t really have a sense of just how close to the finish line that was until this year when she returned to the spot where she was stopped and made her way to Boylston Street.

“I couldn’t believe how close I was,” she said, wearing last year’s blue-and-gold Marathon jacket.

The 2013 race was her fifth. This year was supposed to be her sixth, but a pelvis fracture kept her from running.

“I was almost through all the long runs when it happened,” she said of her fracture, which occurred in mid-March. “I cried for 10 minutes, and then I started thinking about the people who were hurt last year.”

She wanted to push through, but Monachino, a physician’s assistant, said no. So instead of running, Piccone is cheering on four friends.

And next year?

“We’ll see,” she said.

“This was supposed to be her last,” her daughter responded.


Cheering crowds at Boston Marathon finish line


BEACON STREET — Sharad Chand didn’t let the fact he had to dress for work in a suit and tie dampen his spirit. Under his sports jacket he wore a very green, very noticeable Boston Strong T-shirt.

“We call this business Marathon,” joked Chand, who also carried yellow-and-blue balloons as he cheered runners around 1:30 p.m.

Chand is general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott in Coolidge Corner, where as many as 85 runners are stayed last night. He said he’s been wearing his green T-shirt since Friday in support of both this year’s guests, and those runners who stayed last April.

“All of my guests came back terrified last year. What better way to show support. We made Boston Strong stickers and passed them out to all our guests,” he said.

The balloons were for a runners’ reception table he and his staff were racing back to the hotel to stock with energy bars and drinks.



NEWTON — Atop Heartbreak Hill this morning, a group of officers was standing around when an out-of-town officer approached. “Hey, Watertown,” one said, looking at the patches on the stranger’s arm, an obvious emphasis in his welcome.

On this day, a lot of things have an obvious emphasis.

It was hours before the first runners would hit this symbolic spot 20 miles from Hopkinton, try to put the longest and last of the Newton Hills behind them.

There were new barriers and new parking restrictions, and a substantially larger police and military presence than in previous years.

But the party started, as it always does in this area near Boston College, very early.

Midway up Heartbreak, a crowd gathered to watch a huge dance party next to a DJ from Lululemon, featuring dozens of girls in its yoga pants. Young men in BC T-shirts carrying suspicious plastic cups moved through the crowd.


Tufts students, from left, Victoria Stoj, Carla Kruyff, and Kate Klots (foreground) on the sidelines of Heartbreak Hill.
John Blanding/Globe Staff
Tufts students, from left, Victoria Stoj, Carla Kruyff, and Kate Klots (foreground) on the sidelines of Heartbreak Hill.

More from the 2014 Boston Marathon — Gasper: Boston reclaims its Marathon | Photos: Marathon scenes | The ‘Scream Tunnel’ and Heartbreak Hill | The elite runners | Boylston Street | Videos from the Marathon | Full coverage