Every year, thousands of runners convene in Hopkinton with the expressed intent of running to Boston as quickly as they can. In the process, some of the attractions along the Boston Marathon route often get overlooked. Here’s a roundup of some of the things to see and do along the way. Next
The Starter Statue, Hopkinton
“The Starter” statue, located in the center of Hopkinton, is in honor of George V. Brown, who started the race every year from 1905 until 1937. The plaque details Brown’s involvement in bringing the beginning of the race to Hopkinton (until 1925, the race began in Ashland). He was a prominent figure in Boston sports, serving as athletic director of both the Boston Athletic Association and Boston University. His statue was dedicated in 2008.
Hopkinton Common, Hopkinton Next
Ashland State Park, Ashland
A few miles down Route 135 sits Ashland State Park, a serene destination for swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking. The park is spread out over 470 acres, which includes the 157-acre Ashland Reservoir. Not staffed during the offseason. Visit www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/ashl.htm for more information.
Route 135, Ashland Next
Ashland Clock Tower, Ashland
While there certainly isn’t anything that particularly stands out about the Ashland clock tower, its significance in the town’s history and heritage is unquestioned. It was here that Henry Warren invented the electric clock, a matter of history that is referenced in many forms of town life, from school mascot names to local pizza joints.
Intersection of Union and Chestnut streets, Ashland Next
Henry Wilson Shoe Shop, Natick
This unassuming cottage, standing at an intersection in Natick, is where Henry Wilson, a.k.a., the “Natick Cobbler” learned how to make shoes. Wilson would go on to much loftier success, elected in 1872 as President Ulysses S. Grant’s second-term vice president.
181 West Central St., Natick Next
Elm Bank Reservation, Wellesley
This picturesque setting is perfect for a variety of activities, including bike riding, canoeing and kayaking, and dog-walking. The reservation also houses the Massachusetts Horticulural Society headquarters, as well as the Cheney Manor House (left), a historic 43-room Georgian-style property designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, the architect behind the New York Public Library.
900 Washington St., Wellesley Next
Hunnewell Park, Wellesley
There’s a certain tranquility at Hunnewell Park, also known as Town Hall Park, in Wellesley. Situated just to the side of town hall, it’s the perfect place for a quick hike or picnic. There are tables near the duck-filled waterway, benches, and a playground.
525 Washington St., Wellesley Next
Johnny Kelley Statue, Newton
A common complaint from Boston Marathon runners is that they somehow missed this tribute to the local legend. The Johnny Kelley statue, dedicated in 1993 to the man who ran 61 Boston Marathons, his last at age 84 in 1992, is tucked into the northwest corner of Walnut Street and Commonwealth Avenue. It’s about a 30-second detour off the race path, just prior to Heartbreak Hill, serving as an inspiration for the race’s most difficult moments.
Northwest corner of Walnut Street and Commonwealth Avenue, Newton Next
John F. Kennedy Birthplace, Brookline
Less than a half-mile from the race course on Beacon Street stands the birthplace of the nation’s 35th president. This national historic site provides a glimpse into the life of Kennedy through guided tours of the home and its surrounding area. The site is currently closed for the season, but reopens in May.
83 Beals St., Brookline Next
Boston Public Library
Meanwhile, it’s more than just books at the Boston Public Library, located at the Boston Marathon finish line. Current exhibits include “Greetings From Boston, Vintage Postcards,” “Creating an Imaginary Landscape,” and coming in May, exhibitions and lectures related to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
700 Boylston St., Boston Back to the beginning
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