“We got people from Europe, South America, Japan coming in here, taking pictures of themselves,” said Charlie. “I had a guy from Indiana come in this morning.”
On the Tuesday after the marathon, the running center invariably was jammed.
“The last few years, I was in there signing books, and the line to get in to see Bill wound around and up the stairs,” said Gibb. “He’s really an icon.”
The icon still laces up and runs, but he is pushing 65 now. Charlie will begin collecting Social Security in December.
“We’ve got a lot of miles on us,” Bill acknowledged.
With the shelves empty in their corner of the North Market building and the door closed for good, the brothers are pondering which signposts to follow. They would like to revive the Jingle Bell Run with a new sponsor and stage a few other races, possibly one to benefit a zoo.
“It’s the stunted-growth child in me,” confessed Bill.
They’re thinking about selling running memorabilia on their website, if only as a means of thinning out the boxes now chock-a-block in Charlie’s house. Or marketing T-shirts emblazoned with some of Bill’s pet axioms (“The marathon can humble you”).
His first racing center opened in a day when the best marathoners still ran Boston for a laurel wreath, a trophy, and a bowl of beef stew, when the Kenyans still were focused on cross-country and steeplechase and the only Nike was the goddess of victory.
“Thirty-five years is a long time, a lot of history there,” Bill Rodgers mused. “But onward and forward, right?”
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.