WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Black Bart might sound like a villain
out of the Old West, but he's actually a hero at Wellesley
College and to the annual Boston Marathon. As a competitor
in the Boston Marathon many years ago, John Archer, 87,
also known as Black Bart, never finished first. Instead,
he chose to run in the middle of the pack, supporting those
This year the Milwaukee, Wis., native will have a front-row
seat as a guest of residents in Wellesley's Munger Hall
dormitory. The 106-year-old race goes by the Wellesley campus
each year along Route 135; Munger Hall is at the halfway
point of the 26.2-mile course that goes from Hopkinton to
Boston. This stretch of road has been described as the loudest
spot on Earth due to the highly enthusiastic cheering runners
always receive. Like competitors before and after his day,
Black Bart heard the cheers from Wellesley students and
was inspired to keep running the long, hard miles ahead.
"Those days are part of the greatest experiences I had
over my 87 years," said Archer. Beginning in 1967, he ran
in 21 Boston Marathons (among the 65 marathons in which
he has competed over the years). His running days came to
an end in 1985 when, while training for the Boston Marathon,
a hit-and-run accident resulted in major injuries to his
right leg. After his recovery, Black Bart took up bike racing,
only to re-injure the same leg when a stolen car collided
with him almost two years ago.
Nevertheless, today Black Bart serves as an inspiration
in more ways than one. While Black Bart no longer runs in
marathons, he continues to be an avid supporter. Each year
from his home in Milwaukee, he sends a generous check to
the Munger House Council to help students buy oranges and
paper cups for the water they hand to the marathoners.
"I am pleased to say that Black Bart will be joining us
for the Marathon this year," said Munger Hall Head of House
Patricia Monroe. To recognize the contributions of their
loyal friend, Munger Hall will host its 4th Annual "Jiggity
Jam" Sunday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m.
"This will be a reception to honor and to thank Archer
for his contributions over the last 30 years," Monroe said.
"We will also present the annual Black Bart Award for dedication
to Munger Hall." The award recognizes a Munger resident
who exemplifies qualities admired in John Archer such as
dedication beyond the call of duty.
"And of course, Munger residents will be out in full force
cheering during the race," Monroe added. The fun starts
about 11:30 am on Marathon Monday, April 15, and continues
throughout the afternoon.
Wellesley College, a prominent liberal arts college, has
been a leader in the education of women for 125 years. The
College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home to about 2,300
undergraduate students. For more information, call 781-283-3321.