Apr 18, 2014

Boston Marathon History and Facts

Next Monday, April 21, 2014 the Boston Marathon will be held. In the 2013 marathon, over 23,000 runners participated. Lelisa Desisa won the men's division with a time of 2:10:22. Rita Jeptoo won the women's division with a time of 2:26:25. More than $800,000 of prize money was awarded.

On April 19, 1897, John J. McDermott of New York won the first Boston Marathon with a time of 2:55:10. (During the past 117 years, winners have shaved 45 minutes off his original time.)

The Boston Marathon was created by Boston Athletic Association member and inaugural U.S. Olympic team manager John Graham, who was inspired by the marathon at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens the year before, 1896. A measured distance of 24.5 miles from the Irvington Oval in Boston to Metcalf's Mill in Ashland was eventually selected. Fifteen runners started the race but only ten finished.

The marathon's distance was changed in 1908 in accordance with Olympic standards to its current length of 26 miles 385 yards.

The Boston Marathon was originally held on Patriot's Day, April 19, a regional holiday that commemorates the beginning of the Revolutionary War. In 1969, Patriots Day was officially moved to the third Monday in April and the race has been held on that Monday ever since.

Women were not allowed to enter the Boston race officially until 1972, but Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb couldn't wait: In 1966, she became the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon, but had to hide in the bushes near the start until the race began. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, who had registered as "K. V. Switzer", was the first woman to run with a race number. Switzer finished even though officials tried to physically remove her from the race after she was identified as a woman.

In 1975, the Boston Marathon became the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division competition. Bob Hall won it in two hours, 58 minutes.

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