sajid and julie came to pick me up this morning to go see the boston marathon. sajid originally wasn't going to go but julie talked him into it. this was his first boston marathon, my second. already this morning i had gone across the street to the star market to get some snacks and drinks. all week long the weather report said that today would be a hot day, and eventually the temperature would get as high as 85 degrees. on all the local channels (every one of them reporting live from somewhere on the marathon route) the meteorologists were all marched out like rock star prophets, further forecasting what would happen later today and how the heat might affect the athletes. once we were on our way, it got a little tense in the car when we missed our turnpike exit to newton, but then we circled back and found our bearing again. julie directed sajid to the secret parking area and we walked out into the main street where the marathon would come through, mile 20, just before heartbreak hill. julie's running group was already set up, a few people i recognized, but i wasn't introduced to anyone and i made no effort to introduce myself. i was there entirely as a spectator, not a participator. i had the camera in my hand pretty much the whole time, i wandered around trying to get good shots, and i never once cheered or clapped for a runner. we grabbed some food before the action started, i got a large sausage for $4.50 (the price seemed to be flunctuating, when we got there it seemed like they hadn't decided how much things would cost for the marathon, and numbers were suspiciously absent from the chalkboard). julie marked up the street with chalk, writing messages for the runners. in her creative zeal she sustain a blister on her hand from rubbing the pavement.

the wheelchair division left at 11am, but it'd be close to another 2 hours before they go to where we were. around 1pm, the helicopters in the sky and the motorcycle policemen riding down the street alerted us to the nearness of the first athlete. ernst van dyk (south africa) was out in front (and would eventually win), like something straight out of tron, just with lot more colors, lot less neon, and doesn't take place inside of a machine (on second though, scratch that simile altogether). julie and i went across the street for better lighting and waited for the women division which started at 11:30am. feeling the call of nature but not wishing to miss the photo opp, julie was torn. finally she couldn't take it anymore and ran to one of the portal toilets. minutes later, the whirl of police sirens announced the near arrival of the lead women. julie ran back to our photo spot having not used the bathroom. a minute later, the women came. catherine ndereba (F1, kenya) was running side by side with elfenesh alemu (F3, ethiopia), but ndereba would eventually win. soon afterwards another round of police sirens and the men frontrunners started to appear. ahead of the pack was timothy cherigat (kenya), who would eventually win with the crazy time of 2:10:37, which comes out to a 5 minute mile. my default is a 10 minute mile but on a good day i can push it to maybe 7-8 minutes, and that only on a 3 mile loop. i can't even begin to imagine how fast these guys are but it's kind of inspirational, to see how far the human body can be pushed into its maximum performance.


jelena prokopcuka

andrea niggemeier

following the lead runners, the rest of the marathoners started to trickle in, eventually becoming a stream of fast moving bodies running in the miserable heat (it wasn't humid though, and there was a very strong tail wind, blowing over lawn chairs in the process and kicking up dust storms), appraching the infamous heartbreak hill. some of the residential spectators pulled out their garden hose to spray the runners as they came by. there was some controversy however when it seemed like one of the guys spraying was being told not to do it by one of the red jacket wearing marathon organizer. a large crowd began shouting, "let him spray! let him spray!" and even the runners seemed like they needed the water, gasping at the guy with the hose and pointing to themselves to let him know they want to get sprayed. so the spraying continued and everyone was happy.

elsewhere, closer to heartbreak hill, someone else had their garden hose out. a mother with a group of kids was trying to get them to spray the runners. while the man had his spray nozzle set to a gentle showering mist, this mother had hers set to a streaming jet blast. nevertheless, the runners didn't seem to mind (perhaps they were already delirious from the heat), and would try to get her attention as they approached so she could hit them with the water. and hit them she did: after gaining back control of the hose from the children (whom didn't seem too interested in the marathon anyway, but rather spent all their attention on those snap pellets that explode when you throw them), she was like annie oakley, taking direct headshots, really missed her calling in life as a sniper. one of her friends was shouting, "thumbs up if you want the hose!" which sounded kind of familiar, then i realized it was kind of similar to silence of the lamb's "it puts the lotion in the basket or else it gets the hose again." i shuddered. besides, thumbs up always means "you're cool" and if you're cool, you don't need to get sprayed with water. they should've thought of using another gesture.

(rest of the story tomorrow, it's past 3am and i have to go to bed, have to get up for work in the morning)