Managed by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), the Boston Marathon is one of the world’s most prestigious running events and also the world’s oldest annual marathon. The race is held Annually on Patriots Day (the third Monday in April) when approximately 20,000 runners run the 26.22 mile course from the start in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to the finish in Copley Square in Boston.
Boston Marathon History
The first Boston Marathon was run in 1897. John J. McDermott of New York was the winner of that first race with a time of 2:55:10. It was not until 1924 that the starting point of the race became Hopkinton. In that year the race was lengthened to 26.22 miles to conform to Olympic Standards making Hopkinton the starting point of the Marathon.
The BAA recognizes Roberta Gibb of Massachusetts as the first unofficial female Boston Marathon winner with a time of 3:21:40 in 1966. There first official female winner of the marathon came in 1972 when Nina Kuscsik of New York won with a time of 3:10:26.
The Boston Marathon was the first Marathon to have a wheelchair division and the first wheelchair winner was Bob Hall of Massachusetts in 1975 with a time of 2:58:00. 1977 was the first year to have a women’s wheelchair winner when Sharon Rahn of Illinois won with a time of 3:48:51.
The Boston Marathon has been won 4 times by Olympic champions. Ernst van Dyk of South Africa holds the record for the Most Boston Marathon wins with 9 in the men’s wheelchair division.
John A. Kelley
John A. Kelley holds the record for the most Boston Marathon starts with 61, 58 of which he finished. He started his first race in 1928 but did not actually start and complete the race until 1933 on his third attempt with a time of 3:03:56 (37th), Kelley won the race two times in 1935 and 1945. John A. Kelley last completed the course in 1992 at the age of 84. He ran the last 7 miles of the course in 1993 and 1994.
Kelley served as the Grand Marshal of the race from 1995 through 2004, missing 1999 due to illness. Kelley passed away on October 6, 2004 at the age of 97. A sculpture in his honor “Young at Heart” was unveiled in 1993 and is placed near the base of Heartbreak Hill.
The Boston Marathon course is generally considered one of the most difficult largely because of the “Newton Hills” – a series of four hills in Newton, the last of which is dubbed “Heartbreak Hill”. Heartbreak Hill falls between mile 20 and 21 and is a 0.4 mile long ascent of 88 feet.
2nd Largest Single Day Sporting Event.
According the the BAA, the Boston Marathon is the second largest single day sporting event in the world in terms of media coverage, eclipsed only by the NFL’s Super Bowl. Over a thousand media members from around the world cover the event each year. In addition, every year approximately a half a million people line the race route to watch the race and cheer on the runners.