From Pre-race through the Finish Line, Wellesley Takes Part in the 2017 Boston Marathon

April 14, 2017

The Wellesley scream tunnel is as iconic to the Boston Marathon as to the College itself, dating back to the original Boston Marathon in 1897. The scream tunnel, however, is not the only location along the race to the finish that one can spot Wellesley students and alumnae.

2017 Wellesley alumnae and student volunteers

Runners need fuel, and the Sunday night pre-race pasta dinner is an event that Wellesley students and alums have supported for years as volunteers. In fact, Wellesley volunteer staffers have provided so much of the set-up and dinner service in the past that the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) organizers decided to rely solely on Wellesley-organized volunteer efforts for this year’s dinner. “The Pre-Race Dinner would not be the welcoming and electric event that it is without the Wellesley College volunteers,” said the BAA’s T.K. Skenderian. “Year after year, participants from around the world have come to expect the enthusiastic welcome from the Wellesley College team, and event organizers have come to depend on their great work. In other words, the Wellesley College volunteers are not only the soul of the Boston Marathon pre-race dinner, but the spine that supports it.“

Student volunteers preparing to serve runners

2017 volunteers helped serve 3000 pounds of pasta, 1600 pounds of sausages and meatballs, 700 gallons of sauce, and 1000 pounds of cheese. Catherine Simes ’11, who organized the Wellesley volunteers, said that in the eight years that she has been involved with the Marathon, this year was by far her favorite. “It was so powerful to see the Wellesley students and alumnae come together,” she said in a follow-up email to the volunteers. “You brought vibrant and contagious positive energy to the entire City Hall, and worked independently on your shifts yet seamlessly as a team. Wellesley is such an integrated part of the Boston Marathon, and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this tradition and community!”

Students high-five a runner in the scream tunnel

Of course, when “Wellesley” and “Boston Marathon” are spoken in the same sentence, it is often with the words “scream tunnel.” Wellesley’s location near the halfway mark of the race route makes it the ideal location for offering the support runners need to grab that second wind. Wellesley’s legendary section of the race is lined with students cheering, waving signs of encouragement, and offering motivational kisses and high-fives to runners.

sign-making in Munger Hall

The scream tunnel sign-making is spearheaded by Munger Hall House Council. Many of the signs displayed along the route bear messages from the sign-makers, and many others are messages submitted by family and friends from around the world who are unable to be race-side themselves to cheer their loved ones along. Munger received approximately 570 sign requests via social media and email for the 2017 race. Those signs were completed with the help of Munger residents and friends, along with volunteers from other student groups such as Mezcla, the Whiptails, and Wellesley for Caribbean Development.

signs of encouragement collage

“Munger House Council always takes great pride in organizing this tradition,” said Munger Hall House President Rebecca Weitzel. “We’ve been receiving tons of thank-you emails, and reading about how much these signs mean to the runners and how they help motivate them to keep going motivates us even more to make the scream tunnel the best it can be.”

Meghan and Courtney Peterson

Often, the runners that Wellesley is cheering on are its own. Among the numerous alumnae in the race, this year’s field boasts several current members and alumnae of the Wellesley Blue field hockey team alone, including Kerry Coyne ’02, Arielle Mitropoulos ’19, and Meghan Peterson ’15. Peterson will be running to benefit cystic fibrosis research; she was inspired by her sister, Courtney Peterson ’17, who has cystic fibrosis—and plays for the Blue lacrosse and field hockey teams. (Photo: Meghan, left, and Courtney Peterson)

Arielle Mitropoulos ’19

Mitropoulos is running the Marathon for the third time this year, and she explained why running through Wellesley is her favorite part of the race: “For any runner, reaching Wellesley is one of the most exciting parts of the Marathon, but it is particularly significant and special for me as a Wellesley student. You can hear the scream tunnel from almost half a mile out, and running through Wellesley reenergizes you, making you feel as though you are starting the race all over again. Knowing I have the entire Wellesley community supporting me, and all my friends and field hockey teammates waiting at the scream tunnel keeps me going during difficult moments of the race. It is also so special knowing I have so many members of the Wellesley community supporting me all over the course, like my coaches, Julia King and Marissa Pennypacker, who will be waiting for me at the finish.”