Editor’s note: This article first appeared in The Boston Globe on April 12, 1972.
The traditional morning ball game at Fenway Park on Patriots’ Day is iffy, but the Boston Marathon isn’t. In fact, there’ll be two races on Monday.
The 76th annual race maybe remembered primarily as the year women runners were accepted as official entries, with their own race within a race.
The unique aspect should hardly be noticeable to tens of thousands of spectators among the 28 mile, 385 yard route from Hopkinton to Big Pru. There probably won’t be more than a half-dozen female runners, about same as last year, once the field passes the no-nonsense checkpoint at Framingham six miles out.
But for the women who finish – only two did in 1971 – their positions will be recorded in a separate ledger, signifying a fresh victory over chauvinism.
The favored woman entry is Nina Kuscsik, 33, who has broken three hours twice in the past year in marathons elsewhere. Another entry is Sarah Mae Berman, who’s 3.05:07 last year is the fastest time ever in the Boston run. But Mrs. Berman, suffering from the flu until a few days ago, does not expect to match that time this year. Only seven women had entered the race through yesterday.
The woman’s angle might be a convenient diversion this year because the marathon field of male entries is largely forgettable. The usual volume of top foreign runners has been decimated because this is an Olympic year. Energy and travel funds are being conserved for the marathon next September in Germany.
But there are three Finnish and five Mexican runners already entered with the possibility of more foreign post entries. Two of the Mexicans, Alfredo Penaloza and Pablo Garrido finished third and fourth respectively in the ‘68 marathon, then reversed their positions in ‘69. And one of the Finns, Salminen, finished eight last year. The possibility exists, as always, of a sleeper among the other foreign entries.
The undisputed two top American marathoners, Ron Moorse and Frank Shorter, are not running Monday either. Those who will compete include John Vitale of Connecticut and Byron Lowry of San Francisco, fourth and fifth respectively in 1971. Other proven runners include Ron Wallingford of Canada and Norm Higgins of Connecticut.
If the field lacks quality, it continues to grow in quantity, with 1,203 entries logged by Jock Semple through yesterday, already 136 more competitors then those who formed a human herd when the gun sounded in ‘71. Only the 1342 entries of 1969 top this year’s field.
The celebrity list is slim this year. Beyond author Erich Segal, a regular runner and finisher, there’s only Dick Gregory, comedien-turned-protester.
But for many along the course two special celebrities will be competing, and almost certainly finishing. They are John Kelley the Elder and the Younger, carrying No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. The only other past winner in the field will be Amby Burfot, winner in the last Olympic year of 1968. He will wear No. 3.