Chillag Checks in from Boston Marathon Start

Boston Marathon

At the start of the 2008 Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass. Ian Chillag hide caption

itoggle caption Ian Chillag

Ian Chillag is running Boston's historic 26.2-mile race and is updating his progress via his new iPhone.

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MIKE PESCA, host:

We're a little understaffed today at the BPP. Producer Ian Chillag, rhymes with "will jog," I've been told, is taking a personal day to run the Boston Marathon. But the BPP never quite lets anyone go, so we'll check back with Ian right now. Hey, Ian, how you doing?

IAN CHILLAG: Hey, I - you know, I thought I was getting paid today.

PESCA: Well, you're doing these interviews, I mean, come on. You should be, if anyone...

CHILLAG: It's really worth it.

PESCA: I mean, you're running for four hours. That deserves a paycheck. So what's - one of the things I think someone told me you were going to talk about, I think Tricia came in and said, there's something going on with the race, the way it's starting this year? What's the deal with that?

CHILLAG: Yeah, well, you know the Boston Marathon was never supposed to be like it is now, when 25,000 people come out to this little town 26 miles from Boston. And back in the Amby Burfoot's day, it was just like several hundred people getting to Boston from here as fast as they can. So they have these huge logistical problems. Maybe the biggest of which is it starts on this tiny residential street.

PESCA: Well, what town are you in?

CHILLAG: It's Hopkinton.

PESCA: Hopkinton, Massachusetts, OK.

CHILLAG: Yes. And a lot of - the people that live here have been very unhappy as the race has gotten bigger and bigger that you have all these runners standing in the street, and they've been drinking water, hydrating for days. A lot of trees in front yards have been peed on. So...

PESCA: To put it bluntly.

CHILLAG: Sorry?

PESCA: To put it bluntly.

CHILLAG: Yes. Can I say that on the radio? I hope so. I just did. So the - finally Hopkinton residents complained and complained to the BAA, the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the marathon. And now they start in two waves. They keep the 10,000 slowest runners in a kind of staging area for half an hour.

They start the fastest guys - half an hour later they have another race starts, another gun fires. And then those people go to Boston. The theory being the fewer people out on the street with no port-a-potties to go to, so...

PESCA: They could have staggered it by weakness of the bladder, but the people who start a half an hour later, they're not in Hopkinton now? They're - they wait to get bussed there?

CHILLAG: They're in Hopkinton, but they're not on the street where the race starts. They're on a sort of staging area at a school nearby, and they'll walk over. You actually have to walk about a half mile to the start before the race starts. You end up doing about 27 miles, all told, on this day.

PESCA: Because the New York Marathon starts on the Verrazano Bridge, and you know, it's over a body of water so you could "evacuate" however you want and no one cares.

CHILLAG: That actually, you know, the Verrazano has two levels. They stagger the start. They send some people on the lower level, and the advice you always get it stay away from the sides because you will see what people call "yellow rain" coming over from the (unintelligible) level. Yeah, urine is actually a really huge part of marathoning, I'm sorry to say.

PESCA: It's 26 miles of urine. You got to Boston yesterday, right?

CHILLAG: Yep.

PESCA: And they ran the women's Olympic trials?

CHILLAG: Yeah.

PESCA: How'd that go?

CHILLAG: That's a separate course. They run five laps in downtown Boston, and the top three make the Olympic team. Deena Kastor is far and away the best American runner ever. She could have given the field a two-mile head start and won. That's what people were saying. She ended up kind of a good run for her money.

An unknown named Magdalena Lewy Boulet, who took off, got a two-minute lead on the field. Deena eventually chased her down and won. It was a really - I was at the men's trials in November, where the men's Olympic marathon team was decided and that was five laps in Central Park and it was very exciting, but pretty sparsely attended.

PESCA: Yes.

CHILLAG: The whole city of Boston was out for this, so it pretty awesome.

PESCA: So do both women make the team? Is that our Olympic team?

CHILLAG: Our Olympic team is Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, and a third runner named Blake Russell, who's kind of a 10,000-meter specialist who stepped it up and qualified yesterday.

PESCA: All right, that's BPP producer Ian Chillag. Thanks a lot, Ian.

CHILLG: Sure.

PESCA: And Ian's going to run the Boston Marathon today. Be back here at the BPP tomorrow. You can follow Ian race on our blog and our twitter feed. We're at npr.org/bryantpark and twitter.com/bpp. And that is it for this hour of the BPP. Thanks for being with us. We're always online at npr.org/bryantpark. I'm Mike Pesca. Rachel Martin will be back tomorrow. This is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News.

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