Tag: Bill Squires

CELEBRATING TOMMY LEONARD’S 85TH BIRTHDAY

As we come up upon the 46th New Balance Falmouth Road Race weekend, we also celebrate the 85th birthday of race founder Tommy Leonard. In honor of TL a light verse recalling that other great running institution associated with TL, Boston’s Eliot Lounge.  Happy birthday, TL.  See you soon.
Tommy Leonard his ownself

THE ELIOT

For this is where we runners met,
The bar we called our own,
Hard along the marathon course,
Just a half a mile from home,
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On the corner of Mass. and Commonwealth Aves.,
In Boston’s old Back Bay,
Where we came to recover from training,
And put PRs on display.
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With Tommy Leonard tending taps,
The guru in his lair,
Every runner’s true best friend,
With a heart big enough to share.
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And Coach Squires in his corner,
The Wack in classic form,
Holding court, as usual,
Untranslatable being the norm.
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With walls festooned with photos,
Of racers in their glory,
Posters, banners, flags, as well,
Each one with a telling story.
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It’s where Rodgers came to drown a loss,
Or celebrate a record run,
And Joanie nipped with barracudas,
A champion, not a nun.
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With footprints of the running stars,
Pressed out front in wet cement,
Course Tommy mixed the formula wrong,
So the prints didn’t quite indent.
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And remember the night the horse clopped in,
Or the Stanford marching band,
And Heidi singing in those tight blue jeans,
They and the joint absolutely crammed.
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‘Twas a clubhouse for every iconoclast,
Be they runner, writer, or pol,
And while few considered themselves joiners,
To the Eliot they came one and all,
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When running meant more than fitness alone,
Or a bucket–list item for the masses,
But instead formed a band of close brothers,
Before our youth and speed finally passed us.
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Yes, those days are fondly remembered,
When the lines did snake around the block,
But we knew the secret back entrance,
Sometimes I wish we could turn back the clock.
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When time was the measure of excellence,
And Greater Boston the club above all,
When speed was the currency in issue,
But a good time was at night at Fall Call.
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Still, if running has taught us any lesson,
It’s that time stands still for no man,
No matter how hard we might wish it,
‘Tis the future we must look to and plan.
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Knowing our memories still carry,
Those times that were ours once alone,
When speed and endurance were in abundance,
And we called the Eliot our home.
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Sadly, its doors had to shutter,
After the hundredth Marathon was through,
But the friendships we made there still linger,
How fortunate, how lucky, we few,
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Who experienced the sport when it was booming,
When its flower was still in first bloom,
When Tommy was our lovable guru,
And the Eliot our nurturing womb.
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So thanks to all who have joined us,
To salute Tommy on his 85 years,
But just consider the man’s constitution,
Good God, it should bring us all to tears.
END
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1982 BOSTON MARATHON, A REMINISCENCE

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1982 Runner’s Digest Boston Marathon Press Guide Cover

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Our Runner’s Digest radio show had put together a 75-station network for the 1982 Boston Marathon. This was back in the days when running was still consumed by a general public as primarily a sporting contest.  That Patriot’s Day I was stationed at the finish line above Ring Road below the Prudential Tower.  This was the old marathon finish line, pre-John Hancock 1986, directly across Boylston Street from Hereford Street.

We had six reporters strung along the course giving live updates from the field. To help with their assignment, we put together what we believe was the first press guide for the Boston Marathon.  Four of those pages are contained in this post.

By Boston 1982 the running boom was thundering over the land at its highest decibel level.  But when word leaked out that Wayland, Mass. native Alberto Salazar was coming back from Oregon to compete for the first time in the hometown marathon, well, for those who have never experienced the excitement that foot-racing once caused, all I can tell you is that the needle was pinned to the far right of the gauge that year. Every TV station in town met him at Logan coming in. He tried to keep it low-profile, but his dad tipped the press. Al was not happy.

Al was homeward bound off two straight New York City Marathon wins, and what we thought was the marathon world record (2:08:13) the previous October.  Only later would the course be remeasured and found to be 149 meters short.  Notwithstanding, Al was at the height of his piercing focus and unwavering willfulness.  The week before Boston he had gone head up against 10,000m world record holder Henry Rono of Kenya at an Alberto-directed 10,000 meter track race at Hayward Field in Eugene, his alma mater.  Henry (with a gut, I kid you not) barely got by Alberto 27:29 to 27:30. But Al had shown his fitness, and then some, and seemed ready for anything come Patriot’s Day. (more…)