Hopkinton aims to draw visitors outside April with International Marathon Center

HOPKINTON, Mass. — For one day a year, the world watches the small town of Hopkinton for the start of the Boston Marathon.

"Our schools have murals in them, we have Kenya Day -- that happens before the marathon, the kids grow up speaking Swahili and singing songs when the Kenyan runners come in," Select Board Member John Coutinho said.

Organizers are hoping their new proposal for the International Marathon Center will make Hopkinton a year-round international Mecca for all kinds of high-endurance athletes.

"This training center would have the treadmills and everything with the breathing apparatuses, but also classrooms and lecture halls," Coutinho said.

Tim Kilduff was the race director of the Boston Marathon in the 1980s, he now runs the 26.2 Foundation and the center is his brainchild.

"There's nothing quite like what we're talking about in the world, at the moment," Kilduf said.

In addition to the training facility, the center would house a hall of fame and museum, and an educational center for children.

"Very active, interactive exhibits, for example," Kilduf said. "They need to change. We're talking about creating an institution that, in terms of its programming, rivals the Museum of Science."

And that would just be phase one. Phase two might be housing for the athletes. Hopkinton doesn't currently have a hotel.

Right now the plan is for it to be privately funded. Boston Athletic Association CEO Tom Grilk says the organization would certainly support it.

"We'll work to provide whatever sort of support we can consistent of what they're doing," he said. "I'd rather not get ahead of their plans with our aspirations."

We were hard pressed to find people opposed. The town manager says the potential regional economic boost far outweighs any traffic concerns.

"I support the process because, so far, it's been transparent, inclusive and it reflects the needs of the community," Town Manager Norman Khumalo said.

The land was donated to the town by a local developer and the town will lease it to the International Marathon Center for $1.