FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jack Fleming
Past Champions and Legends Returning for 111th Boston Marathon
John J. Kelley to Serve as Grand Marshal
Boston, Mass. – Each year, the Boston Athletic Association honors a number
of past Boston Marathon champions and legends. In 2007, that group includes
John J. Kelley (1957 champion), Kathrine Switzer (women's running pioneer),
Nina Kuscsik (1972 champion), and Toshihiko Seko (1981 and 1987 champion).
Boston's past champions are integrated into the race-week festivities, and
they will also be involved on race day, Monday, April 16.
No name is more synonymous with the Boston Marathon than Johnny Kelley.
John A. Kelley, the elder, won the race in 1935 and 1945, and competed on
61 occasions. John J. Kelley (no relation), the younger, finished second
five times, winning his lone Boston Marathon title 50 years ago, on April
20, 1957. The younger Kelley also linked several generations of Boston
legends. After being mentored by John A. Kelley, he guided Amby Burfoot to
the 1968 Boston crown; Burfoot, in turn, inspired his college roommate,
Bill Rodgers, who went on to win four Boston Marathons. John J. Kelley
returns this year in the role of Grand Marshal, and will ride the course in
a convertible. Kelley will then run the final stretch of Boylston Street,
through a ceremonial break-tape at the finish line.
ELITE WOMEN'S FIELD OFFICIAL STARTER
Thirty-five years ago, seven women were entered in the first official
women's field in Boston history. The champion on that day was Nina Kuscsik,
with a time of 3:10:26. The women's division has flourished since then,
growing from seven athletes to more than seven thousand. When the B.A.A.
created a separate, earlier Elite Women's Start in 2004, the top women had
the road to themselves for the first time in Boston. Kuscsik will return in
2007, on the anniversary of her historic 1972 victory, to fire the starting
gun for the Elite Women's Start and USA Women's Marathon Championship, at
FIRST PITCH AT FENWAY
One of the most dominant marathoners of the 1980s, Toshihiko Seko captured
two Boston Marathon titles – first in 1981 and then in 1987. He returns to
Boston this year to celebrate the latter, when he pulled away from former
world-record holder Steve Jones in the final miles. Seko will be honored at
Fenway Park on Sunday, April 15, when he throws out the first pitch before
the Boston Red Sox game.
Kathrine Switzer marks the 40th anniversary of her first Boston Marathon in
1967 – best known for Jock Semple's attempt to tear Switzer's bib number
off mid-race – with the publication of her autobiography, Marathon Woman.
Switzer will also be covering the event as a commentator for WBZ-TV.
Eighteen years after becoming Boston's first Ethiopian champion, Abebe
Mekonnen is returning to once again compete in the Boston Marathon. Now 43
years old, Mekonnen will be a top contender in the Masters Division.
Keizo Yamada, the 1953 champion, will be running his 17th Boston Marathon
(13th consecutive). Yamada, frequently a top finisher in the 70-and-over
division, finished in 4:16:07 last year at the age of 78.
One hundred years after Tom Longboat won the 11th Boston Marathon, four
members of his family will return to Boston. In his lone appearance in
Boston, Longboat – an Onandaga Indian from Hamilton, Ontario – set a course
record of 2:24:24, defeating, among others, 1908 Olympic champion John J.
Hayes. Longboat's daughter, Phyllis Winnie, will be accompanied by his
grandson Brian Winnie, and great granddaughters Nichole DiGiacomo and
Jessica Winnie. Additionally, members of Team Longboat, a Canadian running
club, will be running this year's Boston Marathon in Longboat's honor.