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Sculpture to honor Marathon legacy

George V. Brown in action at the starting line, as captured by sculptor Michael Alfano. George V. Brown in action at the starting line, as captured by sculptor Michael Alfano. (Kathleen Culler)
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February 24, 2008

A bronze statue honoring George V. Brown, who launched a century-long family tradition by firing the starter's pistol at the Boston Marathon, will be dedicated April 13 in Hopkinton to kick off the town's week of activities leading up to this year's race.

Commissioned by the Hopkinton Athletic Association through a state grant, the statue will be displayed throughout the week on Hopkinton Common.

Local sculptor Michael Alfano has collaborated with the Brown family, including George V.'s grandson, Walter Brown, who has fired the historic shot since 1990 and gave Alfano one of George V.'s pistols as a model.

The statue shows Brown, known as "Hopkinton's First Citizen of Sport," and who at the time was serving as athletic director of the Boston Athletic Association, with pistol raised and set to fire, which he did from 1905 to 1937. His four sons and their descendants have since had the honor, with the exception of just one year (1985) when the BAA president Frank Swift pulled the trigger.

"This is a permanent recognition of what the Brown family has done for Hopkinton and for sports," said Hopkinton Athletic Association president Tim Kilduff, a prime mover behind the statue project along with Brown family member Tom Burke. "We also hope that the statue will someday be part of an exhibit at a Boston Marathon Museum, a project we're now working on," he said.

The group is hoping to convert a farmhouse alongside the race's East Main Street route into a museum recounting its long history.

With its first running in 1897, on the heels of marathon's revival in the 1896 Summer Olympics, the Hopkinton-to-Boston race is the world's oldest annual marathon, and is considered to be one of the world's most prestigious road-racing events.

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