BOSTON—For years, runners coming down Commonwealth Avenue in the final mile of the Boston Marathon could look for a landmark on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue telling them their long journey was almost done. It was the Elliott Lounge, the watering hole of the Hotel Elliot, where seemingly every runner in the Hub, from world record holders to middle-of-the-packers, would stop in for a refreshing post-run beverage, served by the able hand of Tommy Leonard.
Leonard, the de facto mayor of the Hub’s running world, was, according to current marathon race director Dave McGillivray, a guardian angel for runners of the city, and was also responsible for founding the Falmouth Road Race, the New England summer racing institution.
Change, of course, is inevitable, even in a tradition-bound city like Boston. The Elliott Lounge closed and the marathon route was modified so runners now go under Mass Ave, alleviating a huge traffic jam in Back Bay. The span that carries the road above Commonwealth has been known as the Tommy Leonard Bridge, and like its namesake, has seen better days physically. The bridge is scheduled to be replaced in the next few years, but two days before this year’s Boston Marathon a crowd of a few hundred of Leonard’s friends and admirers gathered on a breezy afternoon for the re-dedication of the bridge.
The speakers were a Who’s Who of New England running: two-time Boston champs Geoff Smith and Joan Benoit Samuelson, former world record holder Steve Jones, McGillivray, and former Boston mayor Ray Flynn.
As McGillivray said in his remarks, “Tommy has always watched over us runners, and now his bridge will continue to do that for the thousands of marathoners who will pass under it on Monday.”