Crowds thin, packs thick in brisk airBy Bill Griffith, Globe Staff 4/18/00
The famed Boston Marathon crowds were down yesterday.
Blame it on the weather.
The times were a little slow, too.
Blame it on the wind.
But the races were closer.
Can we credit the weather for that?
With the windchill holding in the mid 20s almost all afternoon, the lead packs tended to run closer together and stay together longer than usual as the runners were content to tuck in behind the early pace-setters, who also served as windbreakers.
A few who set out on their own quickly realized that fighting the elements on their own quickly left them out in the cold, a place spectators apparently didn't want to be. Yesterday's crowd was estimated at 425,000, significantly lower than the million who have routinely turned out for past races. State Police Lt. James Considine of Special Events compiled the crowd figure from reports along the course coupled with airplane surveillance.
While many spectators chose to stay home and watch the events unfold on TV, the runners had no choice.
They braved the elements, and the bigger lead packs resulted in the closest combined men's and women's finish in history - rare last-minute drama for the hardy fans.
While the sun was out (at least partly) and temperatures were a bit higher (upper 40s) at noon in Hopkinton, the wind was a bit more brisk, too. As skies clouded up and temperatures dropped to the lower 40s in Boston after 4 p.m., the winds also slackened a bit, keeping the chill factor at bay.
The weather could have been worse.
As Mike Henry, head meteorologist at Weather Services Corp. in Lexington, said, ``The rain held off until after the race.''