Friday, April 6, 2012

Countdown to Boston: The Eliot Lounge

Note: With Boston only days away (10 to be precise), I'm going to begin a countdown to Boston series of posts. In the final days of the taper, it's hard to get my brain to focus on much other than the upcoming race, but with plenty of Boston-related topics, hopefully I can at least keep the blog interesting.

The Eliot, just before it closed (from Sports Illustrated)
1996 marked the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, but it also marked the end of another Boston institution, the Eliot Lounge. 25 years earlier, in 1972, the same year that Frank Shorter won the Olympic Marathon in Munich, a man name Tommy Leonard began tending bar at the the Eliot.

Tommy was a runner--he had run the Boston Marathon as far back at 1956 and he founded the the Falmouth Road Race in 1973--so he set out making the Eliot a welcoming place for runners.

The bar was located in the Eliot Hotel, at the corner of Mass Ave and Comm Ave, just blocks from the marathon finish. Starting in 1973, Tommy gave every marathon finisher a beer on the house. He covered the walls in race bibs, photos of famous runners, and even had a pair of Bill Rodger's running shoes. There was even an electric sign counting down the time until next year's running of the marathon.

In 1975 after winning the Boston Marathon, Boston Billie told reporters he was heading to the Eliot to celebrate. In 1980, the year that Rosie Ruiz initially fooled race officials, Tommy invited the real winner, Jacqueline Gareau of Canada, to the bar where she was treated to a dozen roses and a spirited rendition of O Canada.

Unfortunately for us younger runners, the Eliot closed in 1996, the victim of a greedy landlord. There's no shortage of great watering holes in Boston from what I've seen, but I don't think any place has stepped up to fill the void left by the Eliot.
Today's Run: 4.9 miles at 7:57 pace.

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