The No. 1 Authority on Running: Tom Derderian Authors a Book about the Boston Marathon

Thursday, April 17, 2014
By Cary Shuman
Tom Derderian

Tom Derderian

Track coach and long distance runner Warren MacPhail calls Tom Derderian, “Winthrop’s best-kept running historical secret.”

“No one really knows about him in Winthrop,” said MacPhail. “But you step outside of Winthrop and the whole running community in the United States knows about him. We’re very lucky to have him and we need to probably take more advantage of having somebody of his superior knowledge and use his resources.”

Derderian is once again sharing what MacPhail calls  “Tom’s bottomless pit of historical knowledge.” Derderian, a 65-year-old long-distance runner and coach, has written his second book, “The Boston Marathon: A Celebration of America’s Greatest Race – One Day, One Race, One Boston.” Derderian’s first book in 1995 was considered the definitive year-by-year history of the Boston Marathon.

Derderian said following last year’s tragic events at the Boston Marathon, he was asked by the book publisher to write a second book about the marathon.

“My [new] book is written from the point of the view not of the race or the contenders, but from the point of view of the cities and towns along the way,” said Derderian.

From Hopkinton to Wellesley to the finish line in Boston, Derderian offers an inside look at the most famous race in the world.

“The odd thing about the Boston Marathon is that very little of it is actually in Boston,” said Derderian. “For the book I talked to people along the route. This is a history of those cities and towns.”

Derderian said that town officials are honored to have the marathon course in their towns. “They’re honored and they understand it is a responsibility. They have to fix the roads. They have to put on special police details, especially this year because of the enhanced security.”

Derderian said the town of Hopkinton is most affected by the Marathon on race day. “Hopkinton has 13,000 residents and on Marathon Monday, 36,000 people come to Hopkinton. That’s quite a gathering.”

Derderian himself has competed in 14 Boston Marathons, with his best time being 2 hours, 19 minutes over the 26.2-mile course.

“I’ve watched the Marathon every year of my life but one,” said Derderian. “My parents used to take us to the Marathon. I ran my first Marathon in 1967, my last one in 1986.”

Derderian was a Greater Boston Track Club teammate of Bill Rogers, who won four Boston Marathons, and Alberto Salazar, who won the Marathon in 1982.

He has been an excellent runner his entire life. He set a school record in the mile at Milford High School and competed in cross country and track at Division 1 UMass/Amherst. As a collegian, he competed in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon.

Derderian was a successful coach at Salem State University and serves as the head running coach for the well-known Greater Boston Track Club (GBTC) Derderian currently coaches Winthrop long distance runners Jason Garrity, Paul Carruccio, and Robbie DeLeo, son of Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo. His previous GBTC teams have won the team prize (fastest accumulated times of the top three runners) at the Boston Marathon.

Derderian’s daughters, Jane and Hattie, are past WHS track athletes, while his wife, Cythia Hastings, is also a very good runner.

Derderian is proud of his new book and has begun making “celebrity author” appearances at bookstores throughout the area.

“Anyone interested in the Boston Marathon should consider reading my book,” said Derderian. “It’s easy reading. It’s a book with a lot of photos and short stories. It’s a good coffee table or gift book.”

Derderian does write about the Marathon bombings in his book.

“When the bombs went off, I was finishing up interviews with the winners,” recalled Derderian. “Suddenly someone was shoving me back in to the press room yelling, ‘Lockdown. “I had no idea what was going on. The race was winding down and we’re in lockdown at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. All the press and the top runners weren’t allowed to leave the building for hours. We tried to piece together what had happened. We could see the police and emergency vehicles lights reflecting on the windows. It was bewildering more than scary. Gradually we learned that it was a deliberate bombing near the finish line.”

Derderian said he is advocating the construction of a Boston Marathon Memorial Bridge to replace the pedestrian bridge over the Mass Pike near the Allston-Brighton tolls.

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