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Rich and Chris Chesmore

the water bearers

In 1983, Rich Chesmore, later a distance coach at Framingham State, attached himself to future Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit at mile 4—and held on for dear life. For the next 13 miles Benoit set a torrid pace, but Chesmore wasn’t cowed. He had grown up a few blocks off the course in Framingham. Seven Bostons he ran, but never one better than 1983. Benoit barely noticed him, of course; in Wellesley she dropped him and everyone else, attacked the hills and ended by smashing the world record by nearly three minutes, in 2:22:43. Chesmore came in at 2:35:32, finishing 505th. “She looked at me,” Chesmore says, “and she took off.”

Still, he played his tiny part in marathon history. These days, Rich, 67, wrestles with a body that won’t cooperate—Parkinson’s disease. He and his wife, Christine, still work and run the Wednesday track meets for kids in Framingham, still volunteer for the BAA as they have for the past 28 years, running an 11-table water station in Ashland. Chris is a Framingham native, too, and at 65 has never lived more than half a mile from the course. In 1975 she took their newborn daughter, Richelle, in her baby carriage for her first trip to the marathon.

“Being a townie—in any town along the course—you are steeped in that tradition from the time you are born,” says Richelle, now a Spanish teacher at the high school in Hopkinton. “It goes right by your house. It’s in your blood. It’s where you live.”

Damian Strohmeyer for Sports Illustrated
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