Second thoughts on Boston Marathon

Craig Virgin, the second-place finisher in Monday's Boston Marathon, has a suggestion for race organizers. "Why not paint large numbers on the street so runners can keep track of where they are?" he asked afterwards, indicating that the infrequent mileage markers alongside the route were indequate and sometimes obscured by the crowd. "If people around here really love the marathon so much, I don't think they'd object to the numbers."

Virgin also expressed a desire for greater crowd control, especially during the last sevveral miles, when he kept bumping into overzealous spectators. The supportive crowd has always been one of the marathon's greatest assets, yet when it encroaches on the race route, a potentially dangerous and disruptive situation exists. Race director Will Cloney has appealed to the public to keep the course free for runners and official vehicles, which is about all one can do without lining the entire route with policemen.

Other footnotes to the marathon:

* If would-be marathoners, of any age, are looking for inspiration, they should check out Johnny Kelley's Boston results. Though he couldn't crack four hours this week, the 73-year-old had the satisfaction of finishing, something he failed to do during his first two Boston Marathons in 1928 and 1932. In 1933 he went the distance for the first time, coming in 37th with a 2:50:00 clocking. More than three decades later, he turned in a better time (2:48:00) while finishing 59th in the 1965 race.

* Incredibly, women have lowered Boston's winning time by more than 40 minutes in just a decade. Nina Kuscsik ran fa 3:08.58 to triumph in 1972, Allison Roe a record 2:26:45 this y ear.

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