WELLESLEY – The Boston Marathon is New England’s most widely viewed sporting event. Each Marathon Monday, thousands of spectators line the 26 mile, 385 yard route to cheer the runners on, from the starting point in the bucolic town of Hopkinton to the finish line at Copley Square, in the heart of Boston. The race winds its way through eight Massachusetts cities and towns, including the town of Wellesley, located around the halfway point.
Wellesley College is one the best places to experience the spirit of the Boston Marathon. There the famous “Scream Tunnel” echoes with the shrieks of Wellesley College co-eds, who get the day off from classes and come out en masse to line the marathon route waving posters, handing out water, screaming with delight, and even offering kisses for the runners
The “Scream Tunnel,” where students line the marathon route for about a quarter of a mile, is so loud that it can he heard well before runners arrive. “It seems like a half-mile out you begin to hear the crowd noise,” said runner Phil Vaughn. “The first time it was a shock. I couldn’t believe how many students there were and how loud they were.”
“They’re just so involved in the race. It feels like you’re starting the race again because it gives you so much energy,” he said.
The tradition of the Wellesley “Scream Tunnel” began during the first-ever Boston Marathon back in 1897, when Wellesley students “cheered on a particular favorite (a Harvard student), thus setting a precedent for vociferous support for the runners,” according to the Wellesley College website.
As one former Wellesley Student said, “Marathon Monday … is my favorite day of the year … As part of a 100 year old tradition, classes are cancelled and the students spend the day cheering the runners as they pass our campus. Many runners say …Wellesley is their favorite part of the race because of the enthusiasm of the campus community.”
Mari DeAngelis is a freelance writer covering all things Boston. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.