Category Archives: Patriots’ Day

April 20th, 2009.

Baker Family Finishes Marathons – Here and There

By Ricky Doyle

Going from a drunk, chubby stoner to a marathon runner may not be a direct route, yet that’s how Matt Baker, 23, of Quincy describes his jump from adolescence to adulthood. The inspiration behind this quantum leap is his father, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Baker of the United States Army National Guard who is currently deployed in Iraq on a 13-month tour.

On Marathon Monday in Boston, Matt and his father exchanged e-mails discussing a rare feat. Both crossed the finish line after 26.2 miles, but with a BIG difference. The finish lines were on opposite sides of the planet.

Matt Baker completed the Boston Marathon at 3:02 p.m., finishing the course in just over four hours and 20 minutes. Two days earlier, 45-year-old Christopher Baker trekked the same distance through the sands of Tallil in Iraq as part of a Boston-sanctioned marathon. He finished in three hours and 26 minutes, fourth overall and first in his brigade.

“I’m never going to hear the end of this one,” said the younger Baker of his father’s time. “Seriously though, pretty impressive if you ask me.”

An experienced runner, Christopher finished an hour ahead of his targeted time on Saturday. He began competing in 1993 when he ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. Matt’s experience was his first marathon. He had never run a road race prior to Marathon Monday and started training last December after finishing his studies at the University of Vermont — both as a way to honor his father and to get into better shape. 

Training for the Boston Marathon was a productive use of time in the months leading up to graduation and he ran as part of a team raising money for the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.

“I’ve grown up watching the [Boston] marathon and love Patriots’ Day, so running was always in the back of my mind,” he said. “For Christmas, all my gifts were running gear so at that point, I was pretty much all in.”

Matt Baker followed a 16-week training program that included increasing his mileage weekly. About every other week, he would set new long distance goals. With a focus on remaining healthy and minimizing fatigue, he ran three or four times a week, getting advice from his father via e-mail.

“Every time I run, I think about how my father can do this in a sun-baked hellhole of a warzone,” he said.

Baker’s commitment surprised his friends and family at first. Ultimately though, he gained universal support. “He is one kid that I never imagined would run a marathon,” said Baker’s long-time friend Timothy McCarthy. “I honestly laughed when I heard the idea. But, what can I say? I’m proud of him.”

Baker described Marathon Monday as one of the proudest days of his life, not only for his accomplishments – and his father’s- but for the entire city of Boston.

“I could literally feel the spirit of support and camaraderie amongst the runners and the crowd,” he said. “It is a day that really shows the true spirit of the city.”

The last four miles were the most challenging, Baker admits , but also the most exhilarating.
A raucous crowd, equipped with air horns and ‘Kiss Me’ signs, greeted marathoners as they dashed through Kenmore Square for the final stretch. Baker’s arrival sent the crowd into a frenzy. Friends and family shouted his name, and he responded with a sky-high fist pump and high-fives all around.

Although he’s reluctant to admit catching the runner’s bug, Baker said he hopes to run in a half marathon next month and the Falmouth Road Race this summer. Younger brother, Chris, 19,  attended Monday’s race and said he may run a Boston Marathon too — a feat to further a Baker family legacy.


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Runners Give Back To Support Esplanade, Parks

By Zaneta Jung

For the second year, Boston’s Team Esplanade ran the Boston Marathon, as the only environmental charity in the famed race. The big leaf on the team’s T-shirts offered a clue to the mission aiding the park along the Charles River.

“Many people come to the Esplanade to run,” said Jeryl Oristaglio, president of the Esplanade Association. “And we wanted to join in on the Boston Marathon to embrace the runners’ community.

In 2007, we applied to the Boston Athletics Association to be part of the marathon and were accepted for the 2008 marathon.”

Each of the runners had a $3,000 fundraising target. The association received applications ranging from first-time marathoners to veteran runners. And it will take awhile after race-day blisters heal before the group knows whether it reaches the overall $60,000 goal.

The "After" photo of Team Esplanade's marathoners

The "After" photo of Team Esplanade's marathoners

“We reviewed [runner] applications mainly on two criteria: fundraising goals and fundraising capability,” said Chris Murton, head organizer for Team Esplanade.

The money collected through the marathon goes towards the Esplanade Association programs and ” . . .programs, such as yoga and dance classes, kickball, and model sailing,” Murton added. “We’re also trying to create new programs for the community as well. It also goes to the active volunteer program, and while it is through volunteers, we still need to buy equipment to facilitate the program. The money also goes towards the large-scale programs such rebuilding docks and playgrounds, as well as operating services for the association.”

Each runner has an account on where they can post bios, pictures, videos, and other materials that might attract donations.

Tim Horn, a four- year Boston Marathon runner, raised a little bit more than $5,000 by Sunday morning and was continuing to look for more donations.

“I contacted friends and business contacts I consider friends,” said Horn. “It’s pretty easy; at least it was for me… You have to truly believe in your cause to ask people for money. It’s a hard thing, but if you truly believe, you can do it.”

Belief in a greener environment is why Rick Muhr, a 40-year-old Boston Marathon veteran and coach, left Team in Training this year to help train Team Esplanade runners.

“I’m certainly very interested in the environment and being green, and that resonated with me with the Esplanade Association,” said Muhr. “That’s a very important piece of property that people take for granted… and I wanted to help with their programs.”

Thomas Kershaw, proprietor of Cheers Beacon Hill, is not only a neighbor, but a longtime advocate of the Esplanade Association.

“I ran on the Esplanade every day for 20 years until my hip gave out. The Esplanade is actually where I learned to sail through its program!” he said. “It’s the nicest park in Boston.”

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Filed under Back Bay, Environment/Green Biz, Patriots' Day

Centuries Later, Paul Revere Still Rides

By Molly Coombs

For the 105th year, a horse and rider set off from the North End to mark the anniversary of Paul Revere’s “midnight ride” to Lexington. This ride and Colonial-era uniform had special meaning for Richard Reale, the horseman chosen for the trip.

Outrider Darin Reale (left) and his brother Richard (right) dressed as Paul Revere, pose for pictures in Revere Park.

Outrider Darin Reale (left) and his brother Richard (right) dressed as Paul Revere, pose for pictures in Revere Park.

Reale’s grandfather was himself a Paul Revere in the 1970s, wearing knee-high breeches, waistcoat and pointed hat. Reale and his wife participated in this year’s Patriots’ Day celebration April 20th to mark the famous ride from Old North Church to warn colonists of approaching British troops.

For Reale and his wife, Jennifer, the tradition continues as the Newton couple are both members of The National Lancers, Massachusetts’s official mounted ceremonial company. The Lancers have been performing this ride, as well as the ride of Revere’s counterpart in Roxbury, William Dawes, since 1904. The ride itself is done in stages, taking the first rider from Boston’s North End to the town of Medford, before the second Revere completes the journey from Medford to Lexington. They are accompanied by two outriders, wearing the red dress uniforms of the Lancers. This year, Reale’s brother, Darin, had that honor.

“In each of the towns, they meet the mayor, who they give a scroll to and then receive one in return,” said Jennifer Reale, a Lancer taking part in her sixth Patriots’ Day ride. Her husband. formally known as Lancer Lieutenant Colonel Richard Reale, was riding as Paul Revere for the first time since 2000. And the family connection doesn’t end there, she added.

“He has a photo from 1976 of his grandfather holding him as a baby, wearing the same jacket Richard’s wearing now,” Jennifer said, referring to the Paul Revere costume.

Richard Reale posed for pictures with his outriders as the company awaited the arrival of Boston’s mayor.

The parade passes through the North End, featuring a marching band that dates to the Revolutionary War.

The parade passes through the North End, featuring a Revolutionary War era marching band.

The distant sound of drumbeats swelled as the parade marched by, featuring representatives of all military branches and members of local high school ROTC programs. Mayor Thomas Menino arrived with the parade, bowing his head with the assembled as the pastor of the Old North Church read a prayer from the dais.

Richard Reale took to the dais to share some final thoughts before the ride.

“We are not here just to remember history, but to support patriotism,” he said. “There weren’t just patriots in the colonial days. There are patriots now, fighting for us overseas.”

Accepting the scroll from Menino, Richard held it aloft, triggering a flurry of flashing photographs.

“Onward to Lexington,” he yelled, echoing up and down narrow Hanover Street, before setting off at a brisk trot. “The regulars are out.”

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Tourists Pound The Pavement Chasing History

Follow this Red Line to Boston's past

Follow this Red Line to Boston's past

By Kevin Collins

It may not be 26.2 miles, but the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail opened to tourists on Marathon Monday, linking 16 historic sites throughout Boston. As tens of thousands of runners converged on Copley Square for the Boston Marathon, friends and family were stretching their own legs while exploring Boston’s colonial history.

“We’re exercising with our daughter who is running today,” said William Geoffrey, who traveled from West Virginia with his wife to support their daughter in the marathon. “Except we’re older and wiser so we’re exploring the city instead of running, trailing these freedom tours for free.”

The guided tours are overseen by The Freedom Trail Foundation and last for up to 90 minutes, accommodating up to 30 paying customers alongside those like Geoffrey who follow the tours at a distance for free. Individuals may walk the trail without a tour guide, following the red painted stripe and brick path that winds through Boston and Charlestown.

Beacon Hill will surely challenge the knees and hamstrings. And the long span over the Charles River to the Charlestown Navy Yard may seem like a long haul. You go at your own pace since there are no stopwatches in tourism. And the return of spring – even if it was overcast and chilly the third Monday in April – meant the tourists were back celebrating Patriots’ Day outdoors.

“The city is going crazy this morning,” said local graduate student Matt O’Connor. “Everyone has a map in their hands trying to follow the Freedom Trail around while the runners finish up. I’ve actually been asked where Paul Revere lives twice today, like I would know!”

For the record, The Paul Revere House is at 19 North Square in the North End (just follow the Freedom Trail). Guided tours continue through November 30. Tours are first come-first served, departing from the Boston Common and ending at Faneuil Hall every day of the week. For more information on The Freedom Trail or guided tours, contact the Boston office of the National Park Service at (617) 242-5642.

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The Finish Line: In their own words

By Christopher Guinn

“I’m never drinking Gatorade again and anyone who does this is crazy,” said one runner just after completing the Boston Marathon. Still, she walked briskly, too busy to stop and talk.

She and countless other runners who finished the 26.2-mile course sported Mylar foil wraps like human burritos as they walked through downtown Boston. Their accomplishments, stories and pain add another chapter in the historic road race on Monday April 20.

What started as a modest event in 1897 is now one of the world’s most popular amateur marathons, attracting tens of thousands of runners each year – amateurs to professional runners — from the furthest corners of the globe.

“It is the greatest marathon in the world,” said Ivana Nelson of Sweden. “It’s terrific. I’ve always wanted to run in this marathon, it was my tenth marathon and I had never run in America before, in the states. It was a great experience.”

This year was the 113rd running and “Marathon Monday” has a special meaning even for spectators. “It’s the oldest marathon,” said Sean Maycumber, one local runner. “It has such historical relevance.”

And the qualifying process of competing in other marathons to prepare for Boston’s hilly course makes the chance to compete here a challenge.

“It was a lifelong dream for me,” said Carol, a first time participant. “I just qualified last year.”

Although some freelancers run along completing the race, to get an entry number, runners must qualify by completing a standard marathon course sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations. “I cried when I crossed the finish line, it was awesome. Ever since I was young it’s always been an attraction for me.”

The race is held annually on Patriots Day, a Massachusetts state holiday honoring the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Threading its way from Hopkinton, Massachusetts the course winds through Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline before reaching the finish line at Copley Square in Boston.

Some runners see it as a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, but some Boston’s fans view the elite race as just another fitness regimen.

“I’ve done it a couple of times,” said Maycumber. “It’s something to keep me in shape over the winter and force me into good shape by the springtime, it’s a personal challenge.”

Whether reaching a milestone like Ivana, living a dream like Carol, or just staying fit, the Boston Marathon means many things to different people. And everyone has their own personal reaction at the finish line — from excitement to exhaustion, just getting there is a story in itself.

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