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Wellesley screams support for marathoners

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By Lisa Moore
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

In 1897, the first Boston Marathon was run.

From that very first race, Wellesley College Woman have cheered on the runners. What began as a group of students cheering on a favorite runner in that first marathon has grown into a genuine collaboration between Wellesley College students, faculty and alumni, and the organizers of the Boston Marathon. Today, that collaboration includes staffing volunteers for the pre-race pasta dinner held at City Hall Plaza and, of course, the Wellesley Scream Tunnel.

A marathoner stops for a quick kiss at the Wellesley Scream Tunnel before heading off on the final 13.1 miles of his journey. Photos by Lisa Moore

A marathoner stops for a quick kiss at the Wellesley Scream Tunnel before heading off on the final 13.1 miles of his journey. Photos by Lisa Moore

Wellesley Colleges sits near the halfway point of the 26 mile, 385 yard course, and provides the perfect place to gather to cheer on race participants in need of a little motivation to finish the grueling race. Over the years, that support has continued and grown.

In 1971 when women were officially allowed to compete in the race, the tradition gained momentum, evolving into what is now known as the Scream Tunnel.

This year marked the 121st Boston Marathon, and what started with 15 participants in 1897 had more than 30,000 people registered for this year’s race. Runners from all 50 states and representing 99 countries ran, walked or wheeled their way through the streets of Massachusetts, passing through Wellesley College’s Scream Tunnel, a quarter-mile stretch of road that has become nearly as iconic as the race itself. Runners have commented that the Scream Tunnel is so loud, they can hear it from a mile away.

Jose Luis Sanchez, a Marine sergeant who lost a limb after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, inspires onlookers as he carries the stars and stripes through Wellesley.  Photos by Lisa Moore

Jose Luis Sanchez, a Marine sergeant who lost a limb after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, inspires onlookers as he carries the stars and stripes through Wellesley. Photos by Lisa Moore

This year, the nice weather drew a large crowd.

Jose Luis Sanchez, a Marine sergeant who lost a limb after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, inspires onlookers as he carries the stars and stripes through Wellesley. Photos by Lisa Moore

The enthusiasm was high, with hundreds of students lining the streets along the racecourse, holding signs and cheering loudly. Students of Munger Hall, a dorm that faces the racecourse, created and hung hundreds of signs along the road, encouraging runners onward. In recent years with the use of social media, the Wellesley Scream Tunnel has gone viral, with their own Twitter page “Scream Tunnel Signs @TheScreamTunnel,” where individual runners could request a personalized sign. The students of Munger Hall made the signs and posted a picture of it, so runners knew to look for their own personal bit of motivation.

If a personalized sign wasn’t motivating enough, many students held up signs of their own, offering their own versions of encouragement with high fives and even kisses. One could see runners react as they crested the hill and entered the Scream Tunnel, some waving, some getting high fives as they ran past, and others throwing kisses back to the crowd of supporters.

Wellesley College students, as they have since 1897, cheered on runners at the Boston Marathon. Photos by Lisa Moore

Wellesley College students, as they have since 1897, cheered on runners at the Boston Marathon. Photos by Lisa Moore

Wellesley College Juniors Talia Tandler and Lauren Rondestvedt have participated in the Scream Tunnel tradition each year since they’ve been at school. Holding signs that read “13.1 you’re (not) almost done!” and “Kiss me it will be Minnesota nice!” the pair said they loved being a part of the tradition. When asked if anyone has ever stopped to kiss them during the race, they said they have been kissed multiple times each year.

This year was no exception, as several runners stopped for a quick peck of encouragement before running on, energized by the kiss and the Scream Tunnel’s enthusiastic supporters cheering for them.

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