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Along the Route: How Ashland Rallies Around The Boston Marathon

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(Credit, Lisa Plotnick)

Ashland, Massachusetts (Credit, Lisa Plotnick)

ASHLAND – The town of Ashland has a long standing association with the Boston Marathon — one that dates back to the marathon’s inception and continues firmly today. For the first quarter-century of the Boston Marathon, 1897 through 1923, the starting line was located within Ashland. It was moved several times during this period as the terminus changed and other course corrections were made, before being relocated to Hopkinton in 1924. Today, the Boston Marathon course through Ashland encompasses most of Mile 3 and all of Miles 4 and 5.

While no longer home to the starting line of the race, Ashland continues to celebrate its strong ties to the Boston Marathon. A group of Ashland residents has proposed a Boston Marathon museum at the site of the original starting line, and is currently working on gaining approval. Ashland also plays a role in helping runners train for the Boston Marathon by holding half-marathons in the town, the most recent of which was held on March 16.

The most prominent association between Ashland and the Boston Marathon can be found in the form of the Ashland Special Programs & Community Gift Fundraiser. In this annual program, 25 marathon runners are selected by the town to raise funds for community services such as the Food Pantry, Ashland Youth & Family Services, police/fire special programs, and community enrichment library programs. This year’s team consists of 10 individual runners and an additional 15 from “Team Genzyme.” Each runner is expected to raise at least $2,500 for Ashland’s special programs.

Ashland boasts another significant historical footnote, too. In 1918, town resident Henry Ellis Warren was awarded the patent for the first synchronous electric clock. As founder of the Warren Clock Company, Warren had spent years perfecting the mechanisms that would provide an alternative to the then-undependable battery-powered clocks. The company later took the name Telechron and manufactured its electric clocks in Ashland through the 1970s. The company’s 1927-built headquarters remain, and are on the Marathon route at Union and Chestnut Streets. The clock tower is now a well known landmark for the runners during their fourth mile.

The town of Ashland is located in Middlesex County, approximately 21 miles west of Boston. It shares its borders with Hopkinton to the southwest, Southborough to the northwest, Framingham to the northeast, Sherborn to the west, and Holliston to the south. The 12.9-square mile town was incorporated in 1846 and had 16,593 residents as of the 2010 U.S. Census.

Lisa Plotnick is a Boston-based writer and editor who is passionate about travel, whether locally or internationally. After a 25-year career in financial services, she is turning her avocation into a vocation. Her work may be found on Examiner.com.

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