Harriers Hurdle Hills, Heat in Boston Marathon

....Harvard's Bromwich Battles Blisters

Yesterday at 7:30 a.m. Quincy House senior Mike Bromwich dragged himself out of bed, dressed and wandered over to Tommy's Lunch. He paid $1.07 for a breakfast of french toast and tea which he ate very slowly. He began to talk about the weather.

"It doesn't seem too bad right now. I just hope it doesn't get too bad by the start of the race. Even so it looks as if one of the African or Central American runners will win it today . . . I hope everyone out in the suburbs has their hoses ready, it's those first 15 miles that you really need the water."

Bromwich, you see, had a noon time engagement with the rolling and often tortuous hills that define the course of the Boston Marathon. And he, along with some 1897 other crusading cohorts, was set to tackle the 26-plus mile run from Hopkinton to Boston in the 80th running of the Boston Marathon.

After a post-breakfast shower and a quick perusal of the paper, Bromwich and roommate Dick Raines hopped into a car and began the trek westward. They arrived at the starting line about an hour and a half before racetime.

"I sat around for a while and then began to dress very slowly. I put vaseline just everywhere and then got into my racing outfit (blue shorts, yellow tank top, white golf hat). I felt dehydrated even before the race began, so I hosed down my hat and my head. My heel began to hurt as I walked towards the starting line and I was really scared I'd get a blister about two miles into the race."


At the crack of noon a communal yell commenced the kaleidoscope start. Bromwich was far enough back in the pack that he didn't reach the starting line until almost 90 seconds into the race. "It was very hot at the start, but I had very few problems and felt good for the first ten miles. And could you believe those women at Wellesley, [approximately the halfway point] they were so enthusiastic, they gave everyone a lift."

That lift stayed with Bromwich for about two miles and then the doubts began to set in. "My mind started to float, I got tight behind the eyes . . . I know the symptoms and I began to get a bit paranoid, I thought mildly of dropping out."

But a sea of spectators, picnicking families, schoolkids kicking off the first day of spring vacation, and beer drinking college students highlighted the race course with cups of water and gallons of encouragement and the prance to the Pru became just that much less impossible.

"There were all these little kids handing us sponges and running along side of us. When we dropped the sponges they'd shout out `thanks.' I think what with the heat the fans felt they were sharing in our ordeal, there were so many little things that just put you in a good mood."

One Hand Clapping

About three miles out Bromwich caught sight of the Prudential and it was all down hill from there. The people at the end were constantly clapping, drawing each runner into its welcoming din. Bromwich finally joined the Boylston and Hereford Sts. crowd at 3:09 p.m.

"There were a lot of people in the recovery area that looked just awful, one guy behind me told me to look out because he was about to throw up. I had a little water and then sat down. I took the subway home."

After a brief rest and a briefer call home (Van Nuys, Calif.), Bromwich went to dinner at Quincy House. Later he stretched out his blistered feet and Heartbreak Hill weary legs and watched a return of Rhoda. "It just goes unsaid that the Boston Marathon is the big time," Bromwich said.