By Lisa Kashinsky
BU News Service
City Hall was transformed into a sea of blue and yellow Sunday evening as thousands of runners donning their official race jackets poured into the sunlit plaza for the annual pre-marathon carbo-loading dinner.
Groups of Wellesley College students enthusiastically greeted runners, their families and friends, as they exited the Government Center T stop, causing many to break into grins. Music floated through the air as runners chatted animatedly while waiting to fuel up for the 117th Boston Marathon tomorrow morning, imbuing the plaza with a festive atmosphere.
“It’s a celebration of people who run,” said David Lindgren, 55, a Minneapolis resident who is running the marathon for the 11th time in a row this year. “It’s part of the ambiance of the whole event.”
More than 400 volunteers were on hand to help run the event and serve approximately 3,000 lbs of pasta to 9,000 guests this year—a third of the 27,000 total runners—according to event coordinator Melissa Goodhart.
“It’s a labor of love,” Goodhart said. “This is my 27th year doing this and I watched it grow from a 4,000 person thing into a big deal.”
Of the volunteers, 175 were Wellesley students, the mark of a longstanding tradition of student involvement with the race.
First time volunteer Stephanie Kim, a Wellesley senior, had a constant smile on her face as she directed runners through the waiting line for food.
“There’s a sense of camaraderie there that they’re going to be doing something amazing tomorrow and for us to be a part of it,” said Kim, 22. “One of them thanked me for volunteering and I was like, no, thank you!”
Wellesley College senior Jean Lee also said she enjoyed meeting the runners. Lee, 21, has volunteered at the pasta party dinner for four years and has been a coordinator for the last three.
“It’s very different than cheering them on during the marathon,” Lee said. “Here you actually get to interact with them. They’re very supportive of us. They love Wellesley and the Wellesley scream tunnel.”
Lindgren grinned as he spoke about the signs made by Wellesley students in the tunnel, many of which include phrases about kissing.
“The fan support is fantastic,” he said. “You don’t go very far without hearing someone cheering for you.”
Boston’s Chief of Property Management Michael Galvin gave runners encouragement and support from the city as he spoke on behalf of Mayor Thomas Menino, who was in the hospital undergoing surgery for a leg injury.
Other speakers included 1973 Boston Marathon champion Jacqueline Hansen and 1983 winner Greg Meyer, the last American male to win the event. The speakers joined volunteers in serving pasta, salad and rolls of bread to runners.
Meyer plans to join Lindgren and a sea of other repeat runners who are racing either professionally or for charity. While Lindgren said he has qualified in the past, he is running this year as part of the American Medical Athletic Association.
“It’s wonderful wandering through the New England countryside,” Lindgren said. “This is my 116th marathon and Boston is my favorite.”