40,000 Leave Hopkinton for Start of 100th Boston Marathon
BOSTON (AP) _ Defending champions Cosmas Ndeti and Uta Pippig and thousands of other runners left Hopkinton today to start the 100th Boston Marathon. At the Back Bay finish line, race officials prepared for an unprecedented influx of fatigued feet.
A total of 38,706 official entrants _ four times the previous record _ poured out of their corrals at noon under near-perfect weather conditions. Thousands more unofficial bandits were expected to join them as runners celebrated the 100th edition of the longest-running long run in the world.
After snow last week and rain over the weekend, the skies cleared and the temperatures warmed to the 50s for race day. Only a slight head wind was expected to slow the runners in their 26.2-mile commute of cuts, callouses and cramps.
``The weather feels great right now,″ John Ferguson, 36, of Henderson Hall, Va., said while he waited for the start. ``When I first checked in, they said cold and rainy, but it cleared up real good. It feels just about ideal.″
The forecast was good news for race officials concerned that warm weather could lead to unparalleled problems in the massive field. Just in case, there were 2,500 medics, 190 massage therapists, 160 podiatrists and rows of cots and wheelchairs waiting in Copley Square.
``If everybody does the job they’re delegated to do, this will go off like clockwork,″ race announcer Harold Rathburn said.
Ndeti went to the front early, leading the men through the six-mile mark at 28:20. Pippig was right next to fourth-mile leader Marcia Narloch of Brazil at 16:24.
Jean Driscoll, the winner of the last six women’s wheelchair races, was trying to match Clarence DeMar’s race-wide record of seven Boston Marathon victories.
As the leaders crossed the five-mile mark, some of the runners at the back of the pack hadn’t started yet. For those near the back of the pack, it took 31 minutes to reach the starting line _ well ahead of schedule.