Wellesley College’s convenient location at the halfway point of the Boston Marathon route has offered students the opportunity to enthusiastically cheer on runners for generations. Marathon Monday is celebrated on Patriots Day, the third Monday of every April and fell on April 20 this year. This year, students took part in the celebration in a variety of ways. Some participated in sign-making led by the House President (HP) of Munger Hall. Others volunteered at the marathon in Boston or collected kisses in the Scream Tunnel on Central Street. Regardless of weather conditions, Wellesley’s turnout for Marathon Monday was tremendous, making it one of the major campus events of the year.
Preparations for the marathon began almost five months before the April event. Munger’s HP, Maria Castano ’16, began organizing sign-making around Wintersession. Processing custom requests and creating hundreds of signs for runners is a demanding task to undertake, but Castano was up for the challenge. She made a series of changes this year to improve sign-making, including forming a committee with fellow Munger Vice President Erin Altenhof-Long ’16 and tackling a new endeavor — receiving donations. For the first time in Marathon Monday history, donations were accepted through various online payment services such as Venmo and Paypal.
To incorporate more members of the community in sign-making, Castano arranged for a number of “hosting” parties, where different organizations could host casual sign-making events. This opportunity allowed students outside of Munger Hall to participate in the sign-making tradition.
“Delegating this responsibility and encouraging other students on campus to lead sign-making really allowed for many students across campus to feel a greater tie to the Marathon,” Castano said.
Though most were from the United States, sign requests came from all around the world. People from all across the nation were able to support the runners through the signs, some of which were funny, while others were sentimental.
“We received signs from mothers, fathers, siblings, children, friends and from runners themselves,” Castano added.
Castano mentioned that she and Munger Residential Director Sarah Cooper decided to implement a cap of 400 requests this year. For last year’s marathon, they had made over 900 signs, hundreds of which that could not be hung even after placing signs on both sides of the road. Other changes, including not allowing repeat signs for the same runner, reduced the number of sign requests to under 400, which meant that all requests could be fulfilled. All of the signs were able to be completed during the sign-making events hosted by different organizations each day.
The sign-making process was an overall success, Castano noted. The efforts were recognized by local media outlets including Boston.com and NPR. Castano emphasized how rewarding the entire experience this year was.
“We don’t know most of the people requesting or the runners who they are requesting for, but we got a glimpse of their lives through these signs. Many signs are inside jokes that none of us on this end understood their literal meaning, but we were able to understand that it meant a lot to someone somewhere,” Castano said.
In collaboration with Munger Hall, the 2018 Class Council hosted one of the sign-making events. Ellie Dougherty ’18, Class of 2018 President, said that this event was the best way to incorporate the class into the sign-making effort and have an opportunity to bond.
Dougherty noted that around 45 people showed up. This turn-out allowed them to finish all the signs in less than an hour. She was particularly pleased with the event since it was a perfect chance to meet classmates and form friendships.
“As 2018 President, I loved seeing familiar faces, as well as meeting new members of my class. Everyone worked diligently but also brought so much enthusiasm. It was awesome to be part of it all,” Dougherty said.
Some students found opportunities to volunteer at the marathon in Boston instead. Tiffany Liao ’16 and Maria Larios ’16 spent their weekend volunteering at the Pre-Race Pasta Party held in the City Hall Plaza. They passed out serving boxes to the runners and their families, which became quite a difficult task due to the number of people attending the event. The boxes consisted of a fork and a napkin, so it was easier for the participants to grab food at the dinner event.
“We had to assemble the boxes too, and when there was a rush of people, it actually became super challenging! I think I assembled over 200 boxes. It was quite a blur,” Liao joked.
Larios really enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the runners.
“I had a lot of fun at the pasta dinner, not only with my fellow Wellesley Sibs, but the runners were really appreciative of our work, so that was fun. Marathon Monday this year was different due to the weather, so my favorite part was that Wellesley was just as hyped and supportive of the runners regardless,” Larios added.
Liao estimated that around 50 Wellesley students were present at the Pasta Party, which she has volunteered at during each of her three years as a student at the College. Liao added how much she liked Marathon Monday weekend every year.
“Marathon Monday is honestly the best weekend at Wellesley — it’s when the community feels the most alive and happiest!”
Though students may choose to participate in Marathon Monday in different ways, Wellesley is able to come together during this time each year to celebrate, give back to the community, offer support to the runners, keep century-old traditions alive and have fun.
Photo by SooJin Jeoung ’17, Photography Editor
Stephanie Yeh ’18 is a News Editor who is pursuing a double major in Biochemistry and East Asian Studies. For fun, she binge-watches The Office on Netflix, eats copious amounts of ramen, and hibernates. She is best reached at email@example.com.