Two weeks from tomorrow, the 120th Boston Marathon will be run.
Runners will enjoy the history, the excitement, and the roar of the crowds that annually cheer wildly for the participants on Patriots' Day.
After a fast start, the screams of the girls at Wellesley College, the half-way mark of the race, and the Newtown Hills, one final climb will challenge the leg-weary competitors: the famed Heartbreak Hill.
Why "Heartbreak Hill?"
Why not BC hill? I mean, it is close to Boston College.
How about "Final Hill?"
Once you crest it, it's all downhill and flat to the finish
To find out why this less than a half mile bump, which ends at about the 20.5-mile mark of the Boston Marathon, you should read the chapter entitled, 'Boston,' in my first book, Running Shorts.
That's what we call the 'tease.'
Following is an excerpt from the chapter, "Boston," which explains the origin of the moniker, "Heartbreak Hill."
"Johnny Kelley notched his first of two Boston Marathon victories in 1935, after having endured a second place finish the year before. Kelley became the favorite to win the 1936 race. He did not, but the story of his defeat is richly steeped in Boston folklore.
Climbing the last of the Newton Hills, Kelley who had lagged behind the leader, Elison "Tarzan' Brown, a Narragansett Indian, whose shoes fell apart at the twenty-one mile mark of the previous year's race, surged up the incline, apparently catching the front runner. At that point, Kelley, by all accounts a sportsman, tapped Brown on the back as a sign of respect. Brown, however, construed the gesture as a taunt, and became infuriated. The Indian then sprinted down the other side of the hill, into the city, breaking both Kelley's will and heart.
The site of running's most famous pat on the back is forever known as Heartbreak Hill."
A memorial statue of Johnny Kelley, who died in 2004, at the age of 97, stands atop Heartbreak Hill today.