Friday, November 19, 2010

Where’s the Dang Statue?

It’s cool and windy as I turn onto Beacon Street. That wind is right in my face, but the temperature isn’t really so bad, and I’m dressed for the occasion. It’s also dark, but I know that here on the eastern end of the time zone, it’ll get light soon. My hotel is at about mile 23 to 24 along the Boston Marathon Course. I’m running in the opposite direction of the race. This means I’m running uphill for a couple miles until I pass Boston College. Before I reach BC I must turn right on Chestnut Hill at Cleveland Circle, and then left on Commonwealth Avenue. The rest of my run will take place on Comm Ave.

It’s starting to get a little lighter as I reach the top of the hill. Now, about 3.5 miles into my run, I’m looking down Heartbreak Hill. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it from this perspective before. It occurs to me that this would be the best time to find the statue.

In 1996 a statue of Johnny Kelley was unveiled here on Heartbreak Hill. The hill is named after Kelley because during one of his 61 Boston Marathons, he had earlier passed the leader, Tarzan Brown, but was then in turn passed by Brown near the top of the hill. This reportedly broke Kelley’s heart. But here’s the thing about the statue: I’ve never seen it. I’ve run Boston 10 times, and probably seven of those were after the statue had been placed there. I guess I just don’t know where to look, but Heartbreak Hill really isn’t all that long (or steep, for that matter – but it’s enough to slow you down at mile 20). I figure it to be in the median area somewhere.

Now I’m usually fighting to keep my head up, and I’m usually aware of the crowds and the other runners at this point. So it may be at least a little understandable that I keep missing it. But it’s not for lack of looking. In any case, I’ll find it this time for sure. I head down, looking all around me. There are no cheering crowds. There are other runners, but most are running in the opposite direction: up.

I get the bottom, and I never see it. I’ll have another chance when I run back up however. I go on for another mile or so, including the next of the Newton Hills before I turn back. I’ve gone five miles out. Now the sun is starting to shine, so I’ll see the statue for sure.

Guess what? No statue. I head back to the hotel, enjoying the run and the memories of this great course. I suppose I can go through the rest of my life not having ever seen the statue. The run was nice enough anyway.

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