The 128th Boston Marathon: Wellesley and Newton communities

Runners passing through the Wellesley part of the Boston Marathon. Photo Courtesy of Ruyuan Li/BU News Service.

By Nicole Abrams

Boston University News Service

On a sunny day in Massachusetts, runners from all over the world came together to run in the 128th Boston Marathon. 

In the community of Wellesley, spectators cheered loudly for runners at the halfway point of the race. Close by, students at Wellesley College create what is called a “scream tunnel” to cheer on runners and motivate them to continue.

Alex Silverman and Amanda Kelly have been coming to the Marathon as spectators and runners for over a decade.

“I mean it’s a state holiday,” said Kelly, “but it’s also like our own favorite running holiday. We ran it 11 years ago together, and then I ran it last year. So it’s just with something that we love coming out to do.”

Speaking on the significance of the Wellesley community to marathon runners, Kelly says that it’s like “a big party.”

“It definitely energizes you as you’re coming to the second half of the race, which you definitely need before you get into these really big hills,” said Kelly.

Barry Green, a sales representative from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is a Massachusetts native. He came to the race to support his friends from South Florida who ran the marathon.

Green ran the Boston Marathon in 2013 and 2014. “At 2013, I was stopped when the bomb went off a half mile from the finish. Then, I came back to run in 2014,” said Green.

Micheal Debiase, an Edward Jones financial advisor from Watertown, came to watch the race to support a friend in front of her real estate office in Wellesley. Usually, Debiase watches the race in Newton by Heartbreak Hill, the infamous half-mile incline at mile 20. 

“This is a little bit more relaxed on this side, I would say,” said Debiase, “but we’re seeing the runners before they’re fully breaking a sweat at the halfway mark. And now it’s definitely a more relaxed atmosphere than how I’m used to watching it.”

A few miles from Wellesley in Newton, spectators cheered on runners as they made their way to Heartbreak Hill.

Meredith Mendelson, the Executive Director of the Ellie Fund, a non-profit organization that provides support to breast cancer patients, came to Heartbreak Hill to support the six runners who were raising money for the organization. 

“This is the first time we’ve had [six] runners. We usually have one or two,” said Mendelson. “It’s a really big day for us.” Mendelson said that their runners will raise $100,000 for the Ellie Fund.

Wayne White and Diane Conserva, a retired couple, came to watch the race because of their fascination with the Marathon. White ran the Boston Marathon 12 times, one of which was the 100th anniversary. 

Speaking on the significance of Heartbreak Hill, White said that it’s a special area.

“I can remember running and we’d be over Heartbreak Hill,” said White, “and people not from the area would say, ‘Are you from the area? When is Heartbreak Hill?’ I said, ‘We just went over.’ So they had no idea.”

At the Marathon finish line, runners wrapped in foil blankets and were greeted by family and friends. Many of them sat around Copley Square, feeling tired yet full of pride.

Kimberly Bookout, a run coach and mom of three from Birmingham, Alabama, finished the race in 3:41:00. 

“I decided to run because I love running and it’s my favorite thing to do,” said Bookou. “And I was just honored and thrilled that I even got the opportunity to be here today. I worked really hard to get here.”

Kimberly Bookout with her medal. Photo Courtesy of Ruyuan Li/BU News Service.

When Bookout ran through Wellesley and up Heartbreak Hill, she said that the crowd helped her push through.

“I wasn’t feeling as strong as I wanted to feel at the halfway point, but the cheers on the side were amazing,” said Bookout.

Shawna McNiff, a nurse practitioner from Melrose, Massachusetts, finished the race in 3:28:00.

“I qualified at the local marathon and Lowell Baystate Marathon, and I’ve always wanted to run it because I’m from Massachusetts,” said McNiff.

McNiff said it was hard running through Wellesley and going up Heartbreak Hill.  “So, right around then is when I feel like most people’s legs start to really hurt,” said McNiff, “but the crowds make it fun and energetic.”

Samantha Goodnow works in marketing at WHOOP and lives in the North End. She finished the race in under 4:20:00.

“I got to qualify in my race in Chicago in 2022,” said Goodnow, “and it’s just kind of a celebration of getting to qualify and a nice run on home.”

She said her experience in Wellesley and Newton was really fun.

“The crowd was awesome today, like the scream tunnel was awesome,” said Goodnow. “So it was really, really fun. There was good cloud cover for a little bit there so it wasn’t too bad, and then just really exciting to hit the half and emotional to go up Heartbreak Hill.”

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