Along The Route: Newton Rallies Around The Boston Marathon

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The bottom of Heartbreak Hill in Newton  (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

The bottom of Heartbreak Hill in Newton (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

NEWTON – Newton is home to two of the most recognized Boston Marathon landmarks – the Forever Young statue, and Heartbreak Hill. As runners make it through this upscale city, they are greeted with enthusiastic crowds who love coming out in the first weeks of spring to celebrate the Patriots Day event.

The Boston Marathon is known around the world as one of the most difficult annual marathons. That’s thanks in part to the harsh New England winter training conditions – but more attributable to the geography of Newton itself. Hills! The series of slopes culminates in the infamous Heartbreak Hill, which requires participants to ascend 27 meters vertically over a quarter mile stretch near mile 20. While this may not sound very steep, try it after running 20 miles.

The 'Forever Young' statue is way over on your left, after you pass the 19-mile mark. (WBZ)

The ‘Forever Young’ statue is way over on your left, after you pass the 19-mile mark. (WBZ)

About a mile before Heartbreak –near Newton City Hall, is a marathon must-see. Forever Young is a beautiful tribute to legendary Boston Marathoner, the late Johnny Kelley. He was a two-time winner and finished this course a remarkable 61 times. The statue depicts a young Kelley running alongside an elder version of himself.

Newton lies just seven miles west of downtown Boston, and is known locally as “The Garden City.” It’s known as the home to Boston College, the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, and the inspiration for Fig Newton cookies.

The Garden City is home to over 85,000 residents, made up of a diverse array of students, young professionals and families. As of the 2010 census, 21 percent of Newton’s population was under the age of 18. And in 2012, Money Magazine named Newton the fourth best small city in the United States. Newton is easily accessible by the MBTA’s Green Line service.

Because Newton is on public transportation routes on the T and bus, and only a short 30 minute ride from the city, it is a great place to watch the Boston Marathon. The “firehouse turn,” Heartbreak Hill and BC campus are some of the best-attended spots on the course. Of course, this year’s race is expected to draw more viewers than ever before, so if you are planning to cheer on the runners, it would be a good idea to head to Newton early on the morning of the marathon.

Newton is an especially fun place to watch the marathon because of its residential neighborhoods. People who live on the race route often throw BBQs, block parties and picnics. There is no lack of enthusiasm, especially because the marathon falls on a state holiday, just as spring weather is blossoming.

If you plan to drive to Newton, be aware that closures of nearby roads will begin at 7 a.m. and there will also be extensive parking restrictions throughout the city.

Cameron Bruns is the founder of BostonGreenBlog.com and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.

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