14 years later, another jacket

Only a runner could get excited about this.

I won’t be running the Boston Marathon on Monday (darn it!), but I’ll be at the finish line for work. And because I’m part of the media, I am required to wear the adiddas jacket and a press credential that are issued to all media members.

My jacket, which is black as usual, has orange stripes. But it’s not the look that has me excited. It’s getting a new jacket to run in.

The last time I “worked” the marathon was in 1998. I still have the jacket; wear it all the time. It has florescent green stripes and has held up well. Only the end of the zipper handle has broken off in all these years. (I wish my running shoes held up so well).

Getting a new jacket is significant for me. Last time I got one, in ’98, I wasn’t even a runner. Actually, I couldn’t believe I was receiving such a nice garment. All I was doing was covering the event. The runners, who put in months of work and pay a $100-plus registration fee, should get one. But they must pay 80 clams for one. Doesn’t seem right, but I’ll take it!

When I covered the ’98 race, I was working for the Hopkinton Crier. The experience was quite memorable. I was actually covering “the race within the race.” In other words, which TV station could bring its watchers the best coverage. And I was shadowing WBZ.

I had the chance to interview Bob Lobel the day before, and on race day, went back to the ‘BZ studios to ride in with a couple of guys who were part of the off-camera crew. I stationed myself at the Boston Public Library where the studio was set up. There were four monitors (one for the men’s leader, one for the women’s leader, one for helicopter shots and a final one for the camera that was mounted on the back of a motorcycle). All I remember from the cycle cam is the road and the yellow lines endlessly unfolding as the motorcycle pushed forward. If you recall John Fogerty’s “The Old Man Down the Road” video, you know what I’m talking about.

The producer in the room was a guy named Fred, who helped relay information to the on-air “talent,” which was Lobel and Uta Pippig. If an elite runner dropped out, a volunteer was instructed to get that info by phone to Fred, who relayed it to Bob and Uta. They didn’t have cell phones, but it was some type of mobile phone.

Anyhow, it was quite interesting to see that side of the race. I also remember my camera did not work, despite a mad dash to CVS for batteries; the problem wasn’t the batteries. But I remember this guy, Nelson, whom I had just met, lent me his camera (which was just like mine, a Canon AE1) for the next month. What a nice guy!

I did get a digital image taken of the guys working in the studio. It was my first experience with a digital photo. I had never heard the term jpeg or tiff before. I had no idea what those they meant; still don’t.

The story turned out good and I wore my jacket as a wind breaker at games I covered for the Bennington (VT) Banner, the paper I worked for not long after my days at the Crier ended. People used to ask me, “are you a runner?” and I’d say no. The reply was always, “You look like a runner.”

Not long after, I became one.

I covered the Bennington Road Race and it looked like all the participants were enjoying themselves. Sure, there was sweat and hard work involved, but everyone was psyched for the event. “This is something I’d love to be a part of,” I later said to myself.

Later that spring, just after turning 31, I started running. Just every other day, in lousy shoes no less, but I got out there. My first race, a 5K, was on Father’s Day in Arlington, Vt. It was painful and I didn’t run much afterward because it was such a hot, humid and rainless summer. I saw people out running, and thought, “How can they?”

Well, these days, I’m one of those out on hot days. Just like Monday in Boston, when it’s supposed to be in the 70s.

I won’t run, but I’ll be part of the event. With my new jacket on.


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