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26.2 Foundation, HCA step up to generate enthusiasm for Boston Marathon anniversary via art

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Featured, Featured: Features

Tim Kilduff, the president and founder of the 26.2 Foundation, has a legendary history of involvement with the Boston Marathon that spans more than three decades. He served as the marathon’s race director in 1983 and ’84 and has been involved in broadcasting, fundraising and nonprofit activities related to the historic race.

Now Kilduff is determined to ensure that the spotlight shines on Hopkinton as the town celebrates the centennial of being the starting point for one of the world’s premiere marathons by incorporating several art and historic events into the pre-marathon festivities.

“We realize in terms of marathons that the 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon starting in Hopkinton is a very significant happening,” Kilduff said in an interview with the Independent on Feb. 11. “The Boston Marathon is the oldest consecutive marathon in the world; no one is even close.”

Added Kilduff: “This is an important time for our community. The Boston Marathon is going to give serious exposure to Hopkinton.”

Winged Foot exhibit, mural add artistic flair to marathon setting

To help generate local enthusiasm, the 26.2 Foundation has partnered with the Hopkinton Center for the Arts to create artistic displays to inspire what Kilduff called “an exhilarated community.” Kilduff noted that the foundation and the HCA “have very a strong work relationship.”

“We’re hoping this catches on and that other community groups will celebrate the Boston Marathon’s birthday,” Kilduff said. “We’re trying to create an esprit de corps.”

The HCA’s Winged Foot exhibit will be displayed outdoors beginning in mid-March through the Boston Marathon on April 15.

“The Winged Foot exhibit is going to be outrageous,” Kilduff said excitedly. “HCA put out a call to artists and got a very strong response. I think people are going to  be very surprised at the variety, design and the quality of the exhibits.”

The inspiration for this exhibit came after Kilduff and HCA executive director Kelly Grill each viewed Chatham’s Art in the Park exhibit during separate visits to Cape Cod. The display coincided with the Chatham Harbor Run, an annual 10K road race, and incorporated cutouts of whales.

The use of the winged foot Versatex cutouts was chosen as a nod to Dayle Doherty, who created the winged foot logo design used by Hopkinton, Kilduff explained. The winged feet will be approximately 2 feet wide by 3 feet high exterior art installations mounted to a metal pole resting at eye level. Each foot will be designed by a local artist. The artwork will be available for auction, and proceeds from the sale of the artwork will support the host organizations.

A related event launched last year is the “stART Line Experience,” a self-guided art and education tour of the Marathon Legend sculptures in Hopkinton. Attendees begin at the HCA, where they can view a short video about the sculptures and a Boston Marathon-themed exhibit. They then are given a map to visit each of the statues, as well as provided with a coupon to the Start Line Brewery. This is a joint fundraiser for the Foundation and the Hopkinton Center for the Arts.

There also will be a marathon mural in town to reinforce Hopkinton’s historical connection to the event.

Hopkinton’s marathon history celebrated

The 26.2 Foundation is building on Hopkinton’s Marathon Footprint project, with the goal of preserving artifacts that commemorate Hopkinton’s historical association with the Boston Marathon. This initiative involves collecting, cataloguing, storing and displaying the artifacts for the common good, according to a press release. This will ensure their preservation for future generations.

Ultimately, the project’s objective is to archive and display these artifacts at the planned International Marathon Center in Hopkinton, the 26.2 Foundation’s signature project.

Kilduff said it is important for people to recognize Hopkinton’s historic role in the Boston Marathon. While other major marathons are run in a circular fashion, he stressed that the Boston Marathon’s point-to-point course was designed to resemble the course of the first Olympic marathon in the modern Olympic Games in 1896. That course ran about 25 miles between Marathon and Athens in Greece.

The decision to change the start of the course from Ashland to Hopkinton a century ago came from an unlikely source — the queen of England.

According to a history.com article, Queen Alexandra requested that the race start on the lawn of Windsor Castle so that young family members of the British royal family could view it. It finished in front of the royal box at the Olympic stadium — a distance that happened to be 26.2 miles. In 1921, the length of a marathon was formally standardized at 26.2 miles.

“If that hadn’t have happened, the Marathon might never have started in Hopkinton,” said Kilduff, noting that the decision for the Boston Marathon’s length became official in 1924.

Local involvement is critical for the race’s success in Hopkinton. Kilduff commended the work of Grill, 26.2 Foundation executive director of development & institutional advancement Kim Chisholm and Dan Terry, the chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission and a lifelong Hopkinton resident.

“Kim, Kelly and Dan met and arranged to cordon off the area in front of the fountain on the Town Common for us,” he said. “The BAA and HCA are phenomenal, and so is Parks & Rec.”

Added Kilduff: “It’s another example of a good idea by well-meaning people collaborating and cooperating.”

In addition, he noted that the 26.2 Foundation was awarded 50 charity entries to the Boston Marathon that were dispersed to 35 local groups.

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