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Faces in the crowd

By Marvin Paye, Globe Staff, 04/16/99

You won't find Dave Barnett, Anne-Marie Dorning, David Estrada, Amy Heinl, Dennis Herman or Don Ross in the winner's circle or collecting a big paycheck next Monday, but that is not the motivation for their months of training for this year's Boston Marathon.

They are typical ''Faces in the Crowd'' among the 12,700 official entrants for Boston '99, people running for the experience, the ambience, a challenge or a special cause.

With every step he takes along the Hopkinton-to-Boston route, Barnett, a Boxborough resident and Director of Horticulture at Mount Auburn Cemetery, will be inspired by the memory of his late brother, Jack, who qualified for the 1996 Boston Marathon but never ran it because he became ill with cancer. ''Jack was my motivation last year when he rooted for me at Kenmore Square and we had our picture taken together,'' said Barnett, who will honor his brother for the second consecutive year as one of 350 runners who make up the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team, each of whom has pledged to raise at least $1,500.

Dorning, a field producer at WGBH-TV in Boston, had watched the Boston Marathon on a few occasions as a member of the media, when she worked at Channel 5 and at New England Cable News. ''I'd been covering it for four years in one way or another,'' said the Sherborn resident, ''and I just thought it would be a special experience to be in it as a runner.''

A chance meeting with fellow Northeastern University student Jason Fowler was the impetus for Estrada's introduction to the world of wheelchair athletics. Estrada, who is media liaison for the Boston Police Department and lives in West Roxbury, was encouraged by wheelchair racer Fowler to try the sport, and, said Estrada, ''I caught the bug.''

Racing along the Charles River with a colleague at work was Heinl's first experience as a distance runner, and when it came to qualifying for the 1999 Boston Marathon, the assistant director of club sports at Boston University literally didn't waste a minute. Heinl ran the Rhode Island Marathon last year in 3:40 - the cutoff for qualification in her age group.

When he isn't busy with tax season or polishing up his golf clubs, Herman, a 14-handicapper at Blue Hill Country Club, finds time to distance train with the Boston Athletic Association. A 10-year marathoner, Herman, who is a tax attorney and certified public accountant, will run this year's race with his daughter, Amanda, 23, one of five Herman offspring and a former captain of a state championship girls track team at Newton South High. But that's not the whole story. Amanda also happens to be one of the Herman quadruplets.''Yeah, we had four cribs in one room when we first moved to Newton,'' said their dad.

After he tore a tendon in his arm, Marblehead native Ross, a member of the Lynnfield-based New England 65 Plus Runners Club, found he had to quench his competitive thirst through running. Once a squash and tennis enthusiast, Ross turned to marathoning in 1982 and ran a personal best 3:05 the next year. ''I just love the exercise and try to do the best I can, and if you're a runner, Boston is the ultimate,'' said Ross, a retired manufacturer's representative and avid rower who tries to run six days a week.

All six are a microcosm of the vast majority of this year's Boston Marathon field - not competing against each other but striving for a goal in a celebration of fitness, camaraderie, tradition and the spirit of giving. Their Marathon-day experiences will be reported in Tuesday's Globe.

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