BOSTON. The Boston Marathon is the worldâ€™s oldest annual marathon, and one that attracts runners from around the world every Patriotâ€™s Day, a holiday on the third Monday in April that serves as an excuse for local bureaucrats to take the day off. â€œRunning Boston is my dream,â€ says Ngtmbe Jpksgzi of Kenya, whose name was cobbled together from surplus letters left behind by American â€œeco-tourists.â€ â€œPerhaps if I win, I can afford a few more vowels.â€
McKelvey: â€œItâ€™s not fair!â€
But local runners are beginning to chafe at what they say is a system that results in skinny guys and gals winning the event year after year, leaving them with nothing to show for their half-hearted efforts to stay in shape.
â€œI musta done ten, maybe twenty situps since last year,â€ says Chuck McKelvey, a regular at the Kinvarra Pub in East Roxbury. â€œThey told me to forget about entering. Meâ€“who grew up here!â€
So regulars stage a â€œdrink-inâ€ at the bar every Patriots Day, refusing to move from their seats until all the free snacks have been consumed and the winners have crossed the finish line in mid-afternoon.
â€œItâ€™s tough, believe me,â€ says Bob Wychekowski, a long-time patron whose loyalty caused him to adopt the pub as his mailing address last year when he was going through a divorce. â€œI know the runners are in excruciating pain, but on the other hand they donâ€™t start serving lunch here until twelve oâ€™clock on the dot.â€
Until then, customers depend on a subsistence diet of honey-roasted peanuts and pizza-flavored goldfish served free at the bar, or garlic and onion potato chips and Andy Capp Pub Fries purchased from a vending machine next to the menâ€™s room. â€œYou got to suck it up,â€ says Mike Donahue, pronounced â€œDONE-a-whoâ€. â€œThose urinal deodorizers can effectively kill your appetite if you get a Bubble Gum or Wild Cherry scent instead of a nice Cabernet.â€
Advocates say they will push for the creation of a new category for participants, just as the Boston Athletic Association, the marathonâ€™s sponsor, eventually recognized female and wheelchair partipants. â€œI donâ€™t see why they canâ€™t have a separate Couch Potato Class,â€ says McElvey, whose weight tops out at around 250 pounds during the off-season. â€œDonâ€™t they understand I have an eating disorder?â€