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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Boston Race Week

This is the first time I’ve had to write a blog entry since arriving in Boston. I decided it was best to drive up so left around 9:30 on Wednesday morning and made great time; I got into Newton by 3pm and that included stopping a few times along the way. I needed to pick up some digital storage cards for the camera we would be using during the week. After picking up the cards I had to stop at the John Hancock convention center which is where the elite athletes stay. Since Lisa, Catherine and Moses were flying up, and since both Catherine and Moses will return to Kenya from Boston, I said I would transport their additional baggage in my car so they wouldn’t have to pay the airline “per bag” charge so I wanted to drop the bags off for them. It was a very short distance to my hotel and I was still checked into The Lenox Hotel by 4pm! The room is really lovely and the sales/marketing manager, Scott, made sure to reserve the room with the absolute BEST view of the Boston Marathon Finish line for me! The view looks down Boylston Street and although the actual finish line graphics weren’t painted on yet, you could see the faded line that is always there throughout the year. I could also watch as the crews down below setting up the bleachers.
I decided to take a little walk to see how long it would take to get to the Fairmont Copley Plaza which is where many of the media events will be held.

The weather was perfect; a little breezy and fairly close to 70 degrees! I returned from my excursion just in time to hear from my good friend Richard from my Boston University days. He had just attended his daughter’s school play and was heading in to pick me up. I was excited to see him because it had been almost 13 years since the last time I saw him! He picked me up and drove me around some old haunts of ours including the BU campus and the apartment where we used to live with some other people. I didn’t have the guts to go up and knock on the door to see who lives there now! After driving around a bit more he took me out to the suburb where he lives and I got to see Laurie, his wife and his daughter Samantha. (His other daughter was away at college). They have an adorable, tiny yorkie named Chloe and it was fun to play with her! After visiting for a bit we headed back into the city and Richard took me to his favorite restaurant there. It was excellent and it was fun to just sit and talk and reminisce about our BU days. Finally it got pretty late and since I had such a long day coming up I needed to get some sleep.

I got back to the hotel and into bed as quickly as possible because I was exhausted from the long drive. It was only 12:30am but I knew I’d have no problem falling asleep. No sooner had I dozed off then I heard a text message. It was 1:30am when I finally looked at that text and read that my cinematographer was still in LA! It turns out there was a fire on the plane and the flight had been delayed. He said they hoped to be into Boston by 7:30 am; I was nervous because we were scheduled to be at a location an hour away at 7:30 am! Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night worrying about whether or not we would make it!
Instead of getting up at 5:30am, I got up at 6:30 and waited to hear news of the flight. Finally, at 7:30am I heard from Russ that his flight was in. I knew he still had to deplane, get his bags, take a cab to his brother’s place and pack some gear before getting to me so I made the decision to leave without him and just meet him in Hopkinton which was about a 50 minute drive. I did not want to be late! It turned out to be the right move because I got there just after Catherine and the other athletes did.

Hopkinton is the starting point of the Boston Marathon and each year the Elmwood School in Hopkinton hosts a program called Adopt-A-Marathoner. The short version is that the elite Kenyan athletes participating in the marathon come to the school and talk to the children. The students spend the month leading up to this day learning about Kenya and by the time the day arrives they are so excited! I was so excited for the event because I know how much Catherine loves kids and you can see her light up when she is around them. As much as the children get out of this program I know Catherine gets just as much. The athletes are announced just like a team of professional athletes at the biggest playoff game of the year; dried ice fills the entrance, spot lights swirl around the gymnasium and an announcer with a booming voice introduces each athlete by mentioning their name and major accomplishments. The athlete then dances out of the entrance with arms raised in the air and then makes a circle around a designated area and all the while the kids hi-five them. The atmosphere is electric! It’s an awesome program that the kids look forward to each year and never forget. The Elmwood school is just for second and third graders and the third graders actually experience the athletes in their classroom as well as in the gym for the big event! After the main event, a class of students does a short two lap run with the athletes around the circle in front of the school. It was great to film this event and to talk to a few of the older students from the track team that were invited back to participate.

After interviewing the principal, Ilene Silver, Russ and I headed out to film the starting line of the race. Unfortunately, we were scheduled to shoot more exterior shots today but since Russ’s flight was delayed the plan had to change. It was rush hour now and there where awful shadows across the road so we had to wait for them to go away! We finally got our shots and then headed back into Boston. We stopped at a tiny Thai restaurant in Brookline on the way back and it was really good! It was a long day but we got some great footage at the Elmwood School!

On Friday we stopped at the Fairmont Copley Plaza to pick up our press credentials then attended the elite athlete press conference. It was short and sweet and then the elite athletes broke out to table to field questions from reporters. I interviewed Denise Robson, a single mother of three who after a divorce went for a run with some co-workers and is now among the elite masters runners. She was really cool and her outlook and attitude were amazing! I also interviewed legendary runner Bill Rodgers who won four Boston Marathons and four NYC Marathons!

After the press conference, we went to the ribbon cutting opening the Expo and then called it a day so Russ could go back to where he’s staying and get the data downloaded from the camera and backed up! I met with another college friend for dinner and got to meet her husband and 3 year old son. I stayed out later than I wanted to but it was fun!
Saturday was a rainy, chilly day in Boston. First on tap was a breakfast organized to recognize past winners of the Boston Marathon. I interviewed two ladies who were both past winners and both had interesting things to say.  
(Lisa Rainsberger) 
I also spoke to a woman who was the winner of the Boston Marathon in Iraq! Afterwards I interviewed a former director of the Boston Marathon  
Tim Kilduff
and then filmed Catherine speaking on a panel at the Expo. 

(L: Helen  Cherono R: Catherine Ndereba)
I learned during the day that Lisa had an extra spot available for the Red Sox game where some of the past winners were going to throw out the first pitch. We had dinner in the Players Club and it was sponsored by John Hancock. They have a program where employees can get help training for the Boston Marathon either in person, or for those who don’t live in Boston, they get the same training via the web. Catherine and a few other athletes were invited to mingle with these runners as well as do the first pitch. Unfortunately, the Red Sox game last night was called due to rain and it was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning when that happened. They had to finish the game tonight and it was already the 12th inning when we were told we wouldn’t be staying. It had gotten too late and we learned it would be at least 45 minutes between the end of the current game (which no one knew how long it would go) and the start of the second game. The directors didn’t want the athletes to be out too late so we went “home”. It was raining and cold anyway! I was exhausted but determined to get a blog entry written!

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