HOPKINTON - "This is the calm before the storm.''
So said Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray at 7:15 this morning, as he took his last chance to relax and chat before Hopkinton shut down and the marathon volunteers jumped into action, moving barriers into place in the final preparations for the race.
"All systems are go so far,'' said McGillivray, "no problems.''
The start line grandstands were searched by bomb-sniffing dogs, TV anchors set up at the edge of the Common, and runners began to collect under bright blue skies and 45-degree temperatures.
''I just worry about 'out there,' '' added McGillivray, gesturing toward the west, "how's it going there, on 495, the Mass Pike. Are the buses being loaded properly? Are there any accidents, God forbid?''
The roads into town closed at 7:30, giving the volunteers in their lime green jackets the chance to swarm Hopkinton's main street, setting up the barriers separating the runners from the spectators, as well as the nine corrals for the runners.
There are 27,000 runners this year, and for the first time, they will have three waves of starters. But for now, "the most important thing is to get everyone here,'' McGillivray said.
Among the earliest arrivals were the charity runners for both Children's Hospital Miles for Miracles and Team Brigham, each of which had their own buses to transport runners to Hopkinton. Tim McQuade, a 29-year-old runner from Newton, is running his fifth marathon, and his fourth for Children's (which had a fund-raising goal of $1.3 million this year that it has exceeded). McQuade, aiming for 4 hours 20 minutes, will start in the third wave, an innovation he welcomes after shuffling along in a crowd for 5-10 minutes in previous years before hitting the actual start line.
"I'm a little closer to the front and that's going to be nice,'' said McQuade. "I should be able to get out faster and not be so cramped.''
Early arrivals on the Common include three young men running their first marathons. Henry Cataldo from Boston and Chris Gibson from Norwood are running with Team Brigham, while Chris Andrews, also from Norwood, is a bandit. The trio met up at 7:50 a.m. on the Common after Cataldo and Gibson took the Brigham bus, and Andrews enjoyed door-to-door service after his girlfriend dropped him off. The three expected to spend the time before the 10:40 start of Wave Three drinking water, eating bananas, and staying warm. It's chilly now, but Cataldo said he expected the race conditions to be perfect. "Sixty one degrees and overcast - it can't get more ideal,'' he said. As for Andrews, he prepared with what he called 26.2-miler at 5 a.m. -- a five-egg omelette. Time will tell whether that was a wise choice.
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
- Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes