BAA'S NEW AUTUMN RACE ISN'T HALF BAD

BOSTON HERALD

When it comes to perfection, Boston Marathon officials plan to go half the distance.

"Our strong desire is for perfection," said new race director Dave McGillivray after announcing the Boston Athletic Association's plans to institute a new half-marathon race next October around Boston's Emerald Necklace park system. "Some people say, 'If it's not broke, don't fix it.' We don't subscribe to that."

The 13.1-mile event will be conducted by the BAA along with the City of Boston and other municipal partners on Oct. 14. Much of the course will follow Frederick Law Olmsted's park system, with the start and finish at Franklin Park near White Stadium. Entry forms will be available June 15.

The field will be limited to 3,000 entrants and the event will not serve as a qualifier for the 26.2-mile event in April.

"I have more work to do," said McGillivray, who for many years served as the marathon's workhorse technical coordinator.

"It will be an honest course," he added. "Fast and rolling."

Start gets narrow

McGillivray announced the Main Street starting line in Hopkinton for Monday's 105th Boston race will be narrowed from 39 feet to approximately 29 feet as part of a "reverse funnel," which marathon officials feel will better assist dispersement of the 15,612-runner field in an orderly fashion.

The move was made since the course narrows to about 29 feet about a quarter mile farther down the road.

"We feel it will take everyone about eight or nine minutes to cross the starting line," said McGillivray.

Grove Street is also being used as a dual-starting area for the field.

Greater Boston Tourist Board officials told BAA officials they have estimated the race produces an "ecomonic vitality" of some $68 million to the New England area.

Kelley makes pitch

Marathon officials said that venerable Johnny "The Elder" Kelley is scheduled to toss out the ceremonial first pitch for Sunday's Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

Kelley, who is a spry 93, was mimicking his best Pedro Martinez move during yesterday's BAA press conference at the Copley Plaza Hotel.

Also on hand were past winners Roberta Gibb (unofficial 1966-68), Jack Fultz (1976) and Amby Burfoot (1968).

Gibb and Fultz are celebrating anniversaries of their milestone victories.

"I've been training in California for this," said Gibb, who will be running on Monday to raise funds to assist Mass. General Hospital's Angel Fund to combat Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). "It's such a joy to be back in Boston. My training peaked about two months ago during a 20-mile run on the beach in California."

As for her Boston visit more than three decades ago, Gibb has nothing but wonderful memories. She said she ran despite receiving a letter from a BAA official denying her application, claiming women were not physiologically suited to run marathon distances.

"I knew my race would change the way people thought about it (women's running)," she said. "If everybody ran, what a wonderful world it would be.

"When the gun went off I slipped into the pack and some of the men said, 'Is that a girl?' I turned and smiled," she said.

"Jock Semple (BAA official) saw me but didn't bother me because I didn't have an illegal number. The guys around me said they wouldn't allow them to throw me out because it was a public road."

Fultz won the 1976 race amid sweltering 100-degree heat, clocking 2 hours, 20 minutes, 19 seconds.