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Boston Marathon Course section


Red-letter day for Blacks

By Marvin Pave, Globe Staff, 4/18/00

WELLESLEY - The rock music from the school radio station and the whistles, cheers, and high-fives from the chilled crowd huddled along the railing on Route 135 at Wellesley College warmed the marathoners' hearts, if not their bodies. But it's safe to say that out of the 17,000-plus runners who streamed past the campus yesterday, no one wore a bigger smile than Megan Black.

For three years, Black, 22, a Wellesley senior and two-time captain of the cross-country team, had watched the race with friends. But her goal this spring was to run the Boston Marathon because, she said, "It's a tradition for a Wellesley senior to run it and it was also a chance to run with my father, Fran.''

Father and daughter picked up their numbers Saturday, a day after Black entrusted senior class president and close friend Leigh Osler with camera duty for Patriots Day.

Osler, along with Tower Court East dorm buddies Katy Whelley, Nora Boukus, Lisa Wittenhagen, Kate Heider, and Robyn Sklaren, was alongside the marathon route yesterday morning, setting up T-shirt and "Kiss The Pig'' tables to raise money for senior week.

Yes, that's right. The administrator or faculty member whose jar was filled with the most donations at day's end will indeed deliver the smooch at Spring Weekend.

"Megan said because she ran cross-country and track, she wanted to wait until her senior year so she could seriously train for the marathon - and because running with her dad would make it a one-time special event,'' said Osler, a New Hampshire native.

So with signs that read "Way to Run Megan and Dad'' and "Go Megan,'' Osler and her friends stood on chairs, hoping for a glimpse and a pose.

They got both.

At 1:50 p.m., nearly an hour after the first runners had passed, it all happened in an instant: Black, wearing a red Wellesley T-shirt, ran close to the barrier, waved her arms in the air, and flashed a wide smile as her classmates cheered and clicked pictures.

Black and her father kept right on - finishing the race and then driving home for a family celebration.

Earlier, around 11 a.m., the first spectators emerged from dorm rooms and walked to the adjacent highway. Pizza, subs, and brownies were the food staples. Many had their faces painted for a dollar. One could also buy a glass of "Marathon Lemonade'' for a quarter, a sports bra for $20 (aptly inscribed "Wellesley Supports Women''), or a $2 bumper sticker that proclaimed "Wellesley College Football - Undefeated Since 1875.''

Signs and banners were plentiful. They ranged from generic - "You Can Do It,'' and "Wellesley Loves You,'' - to specific - "Allison, You Inspire Us,'' and "John Higgins - Keep on Truckin','' the latter two bearing Harvard emblems.

Spectators killed time by reading, dancing, and playing Trivial Pursuit to keep their minds off the cold wind.

The cheers began at 12:30 when handcyclist Albor Alejandro wheeled by, quickly followed by men's wheelchair champ Franz Nietlispach, and they reached nonstop proportions after grand marshal Johnny Kelley rode past and the first pack of runners passed the 20-kilometer checkpoint at the college's main entrance.

By 1:15, Route 135 was filled with runners, some with cameras and one with a cell phone he held out to the crowd.

"It always hits me that people really care about running through here,'' said Osler. "That's why we try to stay until everybody has gone by.''

Which was well past the time Fran (running his fourth Boston Marathon) and Megan Black were met by Megan's mother at the finish line. Megan's unadjusted time was 3:36, her dad's 3:52.

Megan's mother, Anne, and siblings Kathryn, 17, Marianne, 13, Fran III, 9, and grandmother, Regina McDonough of West Roxbury, were gathered at the 16-mile mark in Newton and saw the Blacks run by about 10 minutes apart. Anne Black then took the T to the finish line for a personal greeting.

"My cross-country training definitely helped,'' said Megan. "I was looking forward to passing the college. I couldn't wait to get there. It was everything I hoped it would be - and for both of us to share the experience was awesome.''

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