Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Same goal, a thousand different stories

Boston Marathon notebook

By Robert O'Neill
The Associated Press

BOSTON - Captain America ran. The guy in the clown wig ran. Groucho ran. Ken Bereski contributed to the kookiness: he was all red.

Bereski, 22, a recent Boston College graduate, wore red shorts and painted the rest of his body entirely in red, with the words "BC Super Fan" on his back and a gold apple on his chest.

The rabid Eagles fan has worn face paint for BC sports games and varying degrees of paint during three other marathons he's run. But this year he went all the way.

"It'll slow me down a bit," he said. "On the other hand, it will make people go crazy so that will spur me on."


NO LAUGHING MATTER: Comedian Will Ferrell, known for his antics on "Saturday Night Live," ran with his wife and achieved two goals: He finished in under four hours, and he beat the guy dressed as Elvis.

After saying at the start that he just wanted to finish, Ferrell did better than that with a time of 3 hours, 56 minutes, 12 seconds. The guy dressed as Elvis Presley - actually, a friend of Ferrell's named Bob Babbitt - came in at 4:28:33.

"It's truly an amazing event. Along with the history and everything, it's a bit of a blur," Ferrell said. "Heartbreak Hill felt like a lovely summer day ... and then you get hit over the head with a hammer."

A magnet for fans at the start in Hopkinton, including many teenagers, Ferrell declined requests to do his President Bush impersonation.

"It got retired," he said.

There were no jokes along the route either, reported 1968 marathon winner Amby Burfoot, who ran near the comedian. Burfoot finished in 4:03:37.

"He was completely serious," said Burfoot, who runs every fifth anniversary of his victory. "His coach had him on a short tether. They had something left at the end. It's great to see celebrities come into the race and treat it seriously."


RUNNING FOR A CAUSE: When her legs and lungs were aching on Heartbreak Hill, Sue Mathews said she'd have something to spur her on: the cause that inspired her to run.

Mathews, 38, of New York, is director of Fred's Team, which has run the marathon for the past seven years to raise money for New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center, a renowned cancer treatment and research facility.

The team, named for the late New York City Marathon founder Fred Lebow, included 25 runners in orange and blue outfits. Many of them are cancer survivors or have family members who survived.

"It's great for the kids," Mathews said. "It gives them hope."


KEIZO YAMADA: At 5-feet-2-inches and 108 pounds, Keizo Yamada was told by race doctors he wasn't in shape to run a marathon.

The Japanese runner went on to win in 2:18:51. That was the 1953 Boston Marathon.

This year, the 75-year-old Yamada marked the 50th anniversary with a time of 4:10:11.

He has been a regular entrant in the senior division and won four titles in the over-70 age group between 1998 and 2001, placing sixth last year.

Recovering after the race on the floor of the press room, Yamada, whose bib number was 1953, said he was "really happy he can run 50 years."

The runner, speaking through an interpreter, said the marathon hadn't changed much in five decades and plans on coming back for another eight years.

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