Tag: Heartbreak Hill

CROWD CHAOS AT TOUR DE FRANCE

Wild times on Mont Ventoux
Wild times on Mont Ventoux

“There’s no way to control a crowd like that if they don’t want to be controlled,” said former Boston Marathon race director Will Cloney after huge throngs on Heartbreak Hill forced runners into a single file as they climbed the iconic rise. The narrowed channel made for great excitement, great theater, but also dangerous racing conditions as it was all but impossible to pass anyone in the bedlam.

Accordingly, the Boston Athletic Association soon installed rope lines and finally snow fencing and barriers all along Heartbreak Hill and other crowded sections of the course to keep the crowds at bay in the name of race safety. 

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RED SOX, CUBBIES & THE BOSTON MARATHON

Shoe print     As the winter snows give way to the unrelenting muds of March, the small dividing strip of land along Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, Massachusetts between Center Street and Hammond Road — a strip that runners know better as Heartbreak Hill along the Boston Marathon route — becomes rutted by the innumerable footfalls that pound its surface every day.  For the area runners who work this hallowed ground through the long, bitter months of winter it is the pull of generations past which draws them through till Marathon day in mid-April.

This is also why there had always been a close connection between the beginning of baseball season and the arrival of the Boston Marathon, for both are harbingers of hope, the promise of better, warmer days ahead. Yet the Marathon, like the long baseball season, while holding hope, never actually promises it.  Would a people who sprung from a Pilgrim’s harsh heritage have it any other way?

Born of myth, the marathon is rooted in failure, even demise.  Its language alludes to that curtain which will befall each of us one day.  “Man, I really died today,” is how a runner describes a poor performance.  So, too, in baseball was failure built into the system;  hit safely just three out of ten times, and you are an honored player.  It is this element of suffering to attain, overcoming to transcend which extends these sports from their 19th century beginnings into today’s nano-second world of instant gratification.

And it is also in that sense of suffering to attain that the long-tormented Chicago Cubs baseball fans can relate to what New Englanders had long gone through with their beloved Red Sox.  Yet even the Cubs’ multi-generational streak of futility and frustration can’t compare to the 87 accursed years that Boston Red Sox fans endured the “Curse of the Bambino”. (more…)