BOSTON. The Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, attracts runners from around the world every Patriot’s Day, a holiday on the third Monday in April that serves as an excuse for local bureaucrats to take the day off. “Running Boston is my dream,” says Ngtmbe Jpksgzi of Kenya, whose name was cobbled together from surplus letters left behind by American “eco-tourists.” “Perhaps if I win, I can afford a few more vowels.”
McKelvey: “It’s not fair!”
But local runners are beginning to chafe at what they say is a system that results in skinny guys and gals winning the event year after year, leaving them with nothing to show for their half-hearted efforts to stay in shape.
“I musta done ten, maybe twenty situps since last year,” says Chuck McKelvey, a regular at the Kinvarra Pub in East Roxbury. “They told me to forget about entering. Me–who grew up here!”
So regulars stage a “drink-in” at the bar every Patriots Day, refusing to move from their seats until all the free snacks have been consumed and all runners have crossed the finish line.
“It’s tough, believe me,” says Bob Wychekowski, a long-time patron whose loyalty caused him to adopt the pub as his mailing address last year when he was going through a divorce. “I know the runners are in excruciating pain, but on the other hand they don’t start serving lunch here until twelve o’clock on the dot.”
Until then, customers depend on a subsistence diet of honey-roasted peanuts and pizza-flavored goldfish served free at the bar, or garlic and onion potato chips and Andy Capp Pub Fries purchased from a vending machine next to the men’s room. “You got to suck it up,” says Mike Donahue, pronounced “DONE-a-who.” “Those urinal deodorizers can kill your appetite if you get a Bubble Gum or Wild Cherry scent.”
Advocates say they will push for the creation of a new category for participants, just as the Boston Athletic Association, the marathon’s sponsor, eventually recognized female and wheelchair partipants. “I don’t see why they can’t have a separate Couch Potato Class,” says McElvey, whose weight tops out at around 250 pounds during the off-season. “Don’t they understand I have an eating disorder?”