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  103rd BOSTON MARATHON

From pancakes to parties, Hopkinton really flips for Marathon role

By Marvin Pave, Globe Staff, 04/16/99

OPKINTON - The pancakes will be cooking at the Lions Club breakfast at 7 a.m., about two hours after Hopkinton Fire Lieutenant Ken Clark already has started his busier-than-usual work day.

And while the locals swap Boston Marathon stories as they butter and syrup those pancakes at the Center School, this largely rural town of 12,400 residents will be swelling to at least three times that number Monday morning.

''Anyone who calls in sick to my office Monday,'' smiled Police Chief Thomas Irvin, ''had better be in the hospital.''

Hopkinton has been been the starting site for the Boston Marathon for 75 years. Even though a couple of residents, when asked this week about the race's effect on their daily routine, either grimaced or declined to talk, it is evident that most folks here embrace the Boston Marathon.

Aubrey Doyle, who was athletic director at Hopkinton High for 31 years until his semiretirement in 1992, won't open his store, Star Package, until 1 p.m. on Patriots Day so that he can view the start of the race and catch up with old friends. ''I live 500 yards from the starting line and I enjoy the day,'' said Doyle, who has rooted for various relatives running the Boston Marathon in recent years.

''It's like a small reunion, with people dropping by our house, and you feel a part of the race even though you're not running. A few years ago, some runners from Ireland had bicycled to Hopkinton and we let them store their bikes in our garage. They came back the next day and picked them up. I think that's typical of the way we feel about the race.''

The Boston Athletic Association maintains an office here, and other reminders of Hopkinton's day of international fame include welcoming banners for the runners. Even the restaurant you pass on Route 135 near the Ashland line is called the Marathon Deli.

But despite the throngs, Hopkinton residents don't have to worry about race-related damage to their property, according to Maureen Dwinnell, town treasurer and member of the board of selectmen. ''The town guarantees any damaged property will be fixed or replaced,'' she said, ''and we've got just about everything cleaned up by our crews by 1 or 1:30 p.m. If you come by after that time, you'd never know there was a race here. We're getting it almost down to a science. Personally, I just love the mixing of cultures here on Marathon day. You get to talk to people from all over the world, and how many towns like ours can have an experience like that?''

''Welcome to Hopkinton - It All Starts Here,'' proclaims the sign at the Town Common, and at the nearby Center School on Ash Street, less than 200 yards from the starting line on Main Street and site of that race-morning pancake feast, the kindergarten and first- and second-grade students have been busy with Marathon-related projects. These include cutting out designs of running shoes and coloring them, cutting out silhouettes of runners and wheelchair athletes to tape on school windows, and stringing a welcoming sign across the front of the school building.

''Our students will be wearing running outfits to class [today] in honor of Marathon day,'' said principal Tom Argir, a former Natick High basketball captain. ''They're also making handmade centerpieces of international flags that will be put on each table at the pancake breakfast.''

Roads into Hopkinton will be closed, except for emergencies, by 8:30 a.m. Monday. By then, said Clark, who grew up close to the starting line, firefighting apparatus will be in critical areas so that it would not have to move far to respond to a call once the crowds of runners and spectators have arrived. Clark said preventive measures for Marathon day include prohibiting blasting and brush-burning.

The town's full public safety complement of 15 police officers and 21 firefighters will be augmented by auxiliary and State Police and National Guard troops, as well as fire trucks and personnel from neighboring towns.

''For seven or eight hours, our world is turned upside down,'' said Irvin, whose office wall at police headquarters has a panoramic photo of Main Street on Marathon day overlooking his desk, ''starting when the first buses of runners roll in here in early morning.''

By then, it'll be pancake time at the Center School, and don't worry about the early start: They're serving until 11 o'clock.

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