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Boston Marathon Turns 100 at a Huge Street Party

April 15, 1996

BOSTON (AP) _ Three-time champion Cosmas Ndeti and two-time winner Uta Pippig were there. So was Elvis. A couple who got married. Roger Rabbit. A guy with the Old North Church on his head.

It was a carnival. A zoo. A 26.2-mile-long street party.

It was the 100th running of the Boston Marathon.

More an event than a race, Monday’s centennial was four times as crowded as any race before it, 10 times as noisy, and incalculably more ballyhooed.

As in the past, this year’s version of the world’s oldest annual marathon was dominated by a group of Africans.

The race was won by Moses Tanui of Kenya, who was followed by two countrymen, including Ndeti. Pippig, who wasn’t feeling well, defeated Tegla Loroupe of Kenya in the women’s division, making her the first woman to win Boston three times in a row.

For hours, into the night, the rest of the enormous field would come running, stumbling across the finish line.

``The whole running world congregates here,″ said Red Spicer of Amarillo, Texas, who had been sidelined by an injury and was cheering on the other members of his Lone Star Running Club. ``You tell anyone who will listen, `I’m running Boston!‴

More than 75,000 people had asked to run, and 38,706 were chosen, four times the number of official runners in previous years, so many that the leaders were more than 6 miles out on the course before the last of the field had crossed the starting line.

As they waited, the race’s elder statesman, 88-year-old Johnny Kelley, who had run the race 58 times before retiring in 1993 and won it twice, serenaded them with ``Young at Heart″ and ``God Bless America.″

This year’s race was marked by such new high-tech fixtures as computer chips in every runner’s shoelaces so results could be sent immediately to the Internet. As usual, there were ``bandits″ _ 2,000 this year _ who had not been registered but ran anyway.

And there were the familiar salutes by hundreds of runners as they encountered Dick Hoyt, who since 1980 has covered the course by pushing a wheelchair carrying his son Rick, a victim of cerebral palsy.

Still, these are the graying years of the marathon, with 43 percent of the participants between the ages of 35 and 45 and very few in their lower 20s, reflecting a sport that, like so many other things, has risen and fallen in time with the baby boom generation.

Many of those in the crowd seemed happy not to be running 26 miles, their nostrils pulled open with nasal strips, splashing down Gatorade and sucking down packets of a high-calorie pudding known as Gu.

Jennifer Sullivan took in the start of the race in her hometown of Hopkinton. ``We’ll eat the fried dough and watch,″ she said.

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