We asked Globe West readers and Boston.com surfers to tell us their Marathon memories and traditions. Here are some of their responses:
THE HEARTBREAK KID -- "I grew up on Commonwealth Ave. at the foot of Heartbreak Hill. We were lucky to have the carriage lane on our side of the street, and for many years you could still drive to and from the house while the race was being run.
I remember meeting Joanne Woodward as a kid when she made "See How She Runs" -- we all thought she was some nice lady jogging the Marathon. What I miss most is the intimacy of the Marathon that existed in my youth; it felt like a Boston-only event.
One year (1982, I think) my dopey friends and I decided to run. So we got rides out to Hopkinton, hung around until the entire pack got started (which seemed like forever then, but nothing like today), and began to run. I recall it was really hot (excuse me, 'wicked haht'), but we trudged along. Of course, we all ran tall and fast past Wellesley! When we got to my house, we stopped for a break. We finally got to Boylston Street a little after 5. Because we were running in sneakers we all had blisters. But it was, and is, an exhilarating memory."
-- Enrique Vitug, Newton
CIRCLE OF SMILES -- "I lived for six years in Cleveland Circle right on Commonwealth Avenue, and every year, on my way home around 5:30 p.m., I'd find myself in the middle of the Marathon viewers along the route.
Usually, I'm in a bad mood on my way home because of the commute, and everything annoys me, including people crowding the front of my building.
But seeing the viewers cheering on the late runners, usually complete strangers, always got me choked up and brought a smile to my face."
-- Ruth Capella, Rockland
ALL SHAPES AND SIZES -- "The Boston Marathon is proof that spring has finally arrived to our West Newton neighborhood. But more important, it is a time to socialize with friends, neighbors, barbecue, and cheer on runners from around the world. For my children, Amelia (8) and Sarah (6), it is also an important opportunity to expose them to what the human body is truly capable of achieving when hard work and dedication is applied. Sure it is fun to see the elite runners, and the ones with hats, T-shirts, and banners, but the ones we cheer for loudest are the 10-minute milers . . . this is the group that comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages."
-- Mark T. Williams, West Newton
PEAK MOMENTS -- "We have lived at the top of Heartbreak Hill for almost 25 years. I really enjoy the festival atmosphere of the Marathon. It's a great time to see many people from our neighborhood.
When we first moved here, there was a police car stationed at the peak of the Hill telling the runners through a bullhorn that they were at the top of Heartbreak Hill -- they had "beaten the Hill." When the police no longer offered that service, I found that some of the runners didn't know that they had reached that major point of the race. I decided to talk to the runners, telling them that they were at the top -- especially the ones who seemed to be struggling. Many really appreciate the information.
I also give out ice cubes on hot days to the participants. One hot year a young woman decided to hose down the runners with water. Some of the runners were very unhappy when their shoes got drenched. One person yelled "no!" but she thought he said "go!" and aimed the hose right at him."
-- Cyd Josephy, Newton
MARATHON CLEANUP -- "We all meet up at the [Hopkinton] Common, grab coffee and breakfast sandwiches, and then walk down to Colella's, talking and catching up with old friends, until we reach the house where we climb up on its roof and wait for the gun to begin the race. It surely is a sight to see -- year after year after year! Then it's amazing how quickly everything is cleaned up after the last foot crosses over the starting line. It's like the entire town has a mission to see just how fast we can clean up everything! Within an hour or so, it's back to the small town ("ghost town") atmosphere it always has."
-- Heather McGuire, Hopkinton
THIRTY-YEAR TRADITION -- "Thirty years ago we moved to Natick. One of the exciting things we discovered about Natick was that we lived along the Boston Marathon route. Our first spring here we found ourselves downtown with throngs of other residents lined up along Route 135 waiting, waving, and cheering the runners as they ran past us. It was a warm connection with the community. Marathons run in the mid '70s were without the prize money of today, and the number of runners participating was not on the scale of today. As a family we always enjoyed the annual event."
-- Martie Dumas, Natick, who is looking forward to watching son Tim run in tomorrow's race