Boston seems to have an edge for all things great.
The Red Sox, of course. Celtics. Bruins. Patriots too. And don't forget the iconic Boston Marathon. But a new sibling is gaining some traction and it's only four years old.
The Boston Motorcycle Marathon Ride brings a hoard of riders every year and quite the same is expected on Sunday (rain date is August 21) when the fourth annual running gets underway in Hopkinton, MA.
Fred Georgoulis founded the ride in 2013 to honor his wife's battle with breast cancer and help raise funds for the Jimmy Fund, a fund-raising non-profit organization for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Usually inaugural rides bring a modest turn-out but after the Boston Marathon bombing and last minute changes to honor the fallen, nearly 1,000 riders turned out the first year and it's been open throttle ever since.
"It really does not get easier every year," said Georgoulis who begins planning in earnest every January. "There are so many variables, especially Mother Nature."
Weather has yet to impact the ride though a rain out date is set every year, however, leadership changes cause speed bumps, if you will. The ride follows a police escorted 29 mile route from Hopkinton to Medford and takes the exact path of the Boston Marathon crossing the finish line in front of hundreds of well-wishers. That setup requires coordinating with multiple cities and police departments but, as Georgoulis learned, organizational contacts sometimes leave or get promoted and he starts all over again.
"The brass changes. The lieutenant last year may be a captain this year," he said. "There's also a tremendous amount of politics. The best part is I have a landing and launch spot etched in stone. But nothing else is etched in stone so if someone changes their mind next year I'm screwed."
Despite the challenges and what's become a full-time volunteer job, Georgoulis said it's all worth it. The BMMR typically nets about $20,000 for the Jimmy Fund and he's hoping to meet or beat that figure this year. It all looks good based on pre-sign-ups though the vast majority of riders decide on ride day.
"When you cross that finish line on Boylston Street it's a rush. You reflect back on the carnage that took place there, nobody can think of the Boston Marathon and not remember what happened," said Georgoulis, who has also walked the Marathon four times. "Plus, it's been around for over a century and how many people have run it and walked the full 26.2 miles? Every emotion you've ever felt rushes in. It's euphoric."
This year attendees can expect 45 police motorcycles with lights and sirens leading the massive caravan along with an estimated 150 police departments represented either as volunteer helpers or participants. Already riders have registered from Maine and two coming as far away as Ohio.
The BMMR also hosts a wreath laying ceremony before the ride starts to honor Officer Sean Collier who was killed in a shootout with the terrorists and the three killed in the bombing attacks along the finish line: Massachusetts residents Krystal Campbell, 29 and eight year-old Martin Richard; and Lingo Lu, 23, of China.
Additionally, the ceremony also remembers Officer Dennis Simmonds, who was wounded in a shootout with the terrorists and died almost exactly a year later while training at the Boston police academy. An ensuing medical investigation determined his death resulted from those wounds.
Georgoulis pulls out all the stops for the ceremony which includes on honor guard with officers from the Revere Police Department, a 21-gun salute and a bagpipe performance of "Taps." Steve Baglioni, a popular locally known musician, will sing "In the Line of Duty" a song composed from a poem he and Georgoulis wrote the music specifically for the BMMR.
Entry fees for the BMMR cost $35 plus $10 for passengers. An after party which includes food and live entertainment is held at the VFW Post 1012 in Medford. Check out the BMMR website for more information and to sign-up.