LYNN — The finish line generates a unique emotional response for each Boston Marathon runner.
Whatever the feeling, Accurate Graphics owner Peppi Bolognese has seen it all.
The Lynn company has been charged with the task of installing the iconic Boston Marathon finish line graphic for 18 years.
And to Bolognese the event has not lost its luster.
“It’s wonderful when you tell your clients what you do,” said Bolognese,
There is a considerable amount of work that goes into the event — which will take place on Monday — and the first step in the process is making sure the entire finish line area is immaculate.
Bolognese talked about the importance of the material he uses. The safety of the runners is essential he said, and he uses materials that guarantee runners will not slip and fall when crossing.
“We don’t print it,” he said. ” We use a special material that adheres to the street and it has a rough finish so it does not skid. This is important because you have a lot of runners there and you can’t have people slipping on it.”
As one might expect, the task of setting the finish can be difficult. First, Bolognese and his team need to determine the exact spot the line will be placed. Next the team marks a line on Boylston Street so it can start the preparation. The finish line comes in four sections; they block the street off and put down the sections in order. When the layout for the finish line is set, the process begins for setting the material, and making it adhere to the tarmac.
“It’s a process,” Bolognese said. “You have to really varnish it. You have to squeegee it, and then you use the torch so you melt it into the hot tar.”
Bolognese said he has enough patience to endure what it takes to make sure the finish line is perfect — which is what he desires.
“It takes some time because it’s going to stretch,” he said. “We need to make sure everything lines up.
“The process of setting the finish line is not completed in one day. It can take multiple days to finish.”
But after working on the finish line for 18 years, Bolognese has mastered the technique. He knows the whole world sees his creation when the finish line is unveiled for the marathon, and it gives him and his team great satisfaction to be a part of the event.
“We’re very proud to this, especially in light of what happened (in 2013, when two bombs went off at the finish line),” he said. “To be a part of this beautiful day, my guys, they love doing it, and it has a special meaning for us now.”
After the race, the process of removing it begins.
“You can’t salvage it,” he said. “You have to cut it up into little pieces because the adhesive is so strong.”
He uses a torch to heat up the material, so it is pliable, and can be removed.
Even after the race, the the cheerful atmosphere is infectious to Bolognese. Once the finish line is removed he gives pieces to any runners who want it.
“It’s such a happy time and it makes you feel so good being involved in it, this is how the world should be,” said Bolognese.