History of the Boston Marathon

Boston marathon training plan

History is the only thing that takes you to the roots of everything. It’s like a thumbprint showing everything about specific moments in the past. The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest running events in the United States.

For runners, the race is substantial not just because of its history, but also due to the fact that it is one of the most challenging Marathons in the world. Hills and tough weather conditions make the race hard to complete, yet runners keep coming back every year to test their limits. We think it’s time to know a little bit of a background about this great event.

When we talk about history, it’s often easy to forget just how long ago some events took place. The Boston Marathon is a perfect example of this; from its humble beginnings in 1897, the race has been held annually for over 120 years. That’s an impressive feat in and of itself, but when you consider the fact that the race takes place on one of the most difficult courses in the world, it’s even more impressive.

Begun in 1897, the event was inspired by the success of the first marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics (1)

Inspired by the success of the first modern-day marathon in Athens, Greece in 1896; the Boston Athletic Association member and US Olympic Team Manager John Graham decided to bring the event to the United States. The first Boston Marathon was held on April 19, 1897, from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to the Irvington Oval in Boston and featured a field of just 15 runners. Of those 15 runners, only 10 actually finished the race.

Herbert H. Holton, renowned Boston businessman, assisted John Graham in organizing the race and later designing various routes. From those 15 runners, John J. McDermott emerged as the winner with a time of 2:55:10. The Boston Marathon has been held annually ever since, making it the oldest continuously running marathon in the world.

The Boston Marathon continued to grow in popularity throughout the early 20th century. While the field of runners has increased exponentially over the years, the course itself has remained largely unchanged although some minor tweaks have been made to keep up with the changing times. The most notable change came in 1924 when the start of the race was moved from Ashland to Hopkinton and re-routed from its original 24.5-mile course to the now-standard 26.2-mile conforming to the international Olympic standard for marathon race lengths.

Despite the course’s challenges, runners keep returning to the Boston Marathon year after year. Over the last 2 decades, the race has seen an increase in popularity, with over 30,000 runners taking part in the race each year.

This increase in popularity is likely due to the increased media coverage of the event, as well as the fact that the Boston Marathon is now one of the most prestigious running events in the world. Notorious hills such as Heartbreak Hill have become iconic, and the race has been featured in countless movies and television shows over the years. To finish it strong you must consider the Boston marathon training plan.

Greek Legend Who Started It All

The origins of the Boston Marathon can be traced back to a Greek legend. The story goes that a Greek messenger named Pheidippides was sent from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to deliver news of the Greek victory over the Persians. Upon arrival in Athens, Pheidippides collapsed and died from exhaustion. He approached the leaders of Athens and uttered the famous words “Nenikēkamen” (“We have won”) before collapsing and dying.

While the story is likely apocryphal, it highlights the challenge that runners face when they take on the Boston Marathon. Well, who thought Pheidippides’ name would be remembered by so many people and his death would lay the foundation for one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, competitive running events in the world?

At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, the distance took a turn because of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria’s request to have the start of a race in front of Windsor Castle, so that the royal family members could watch the start of the event. The distance from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium was 26 miles. Organizers decided to add 385 yards to the length of the race so that the race would officially be 26.2 miles long, ending in front of the stadium’s royal box. For the first seven Olympic Games, different distances were used for the Marathon, it wasn’t until 1924 that 26.2 miles became the international standard.

Want to know how to qualify for this? Well, Boston marathon qualifying training plan is a must to get you prepared for the historic race.The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has set qualifying standards for both men and women of all ages. These standards give runners an opportunity to test their mettle against other runners of similar ability from around the world.

Newbies and first-timers need not worry; a 5k training plan can set you up for jump-starting your running journey.

The Patriots’ Day Race

April 19 is a day when Massachusetts and the rest of New England celebrate Patriots’ Day. It commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which were the first battles of the American Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. The date is also significant in the Boston Marathon history as it has been the day of the race since 1897. And from then on, the race has always been held on the 3rd Monday of April and is known as the Patriots’ Day Race. 

Women in the Race

1966, Roberta Gibb became the first woman to sneak into the Boston Marathon. She was not allowed to officially register for the race because, at that time, women were not thought to be capable of running the long distance. So, Gibb hid in the bushes near the start line and jumped into the race when it started. It was not until 1972 when women were allowed to officially register and run in the Boston Marathon. 

Katherine Switzer was the first woman to have an official bib number when she registered for the race with the name “K.V. Switzer” in 1967. When race officials found out that she was a woman, they removed her from the race. But Katherine was not going to give up that easily and she finished the race anyway. Her act of defiance is credited with helping to open up the Boston Marathon to women runners.

Katherine comments on her participation in the 1967 Boston Marathon, “I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26-plus miles. If I quit, everybody would say it was a publicity stunt”. Katherine’s courage and determination helped change the face of the Boston Marathon and paved the way for women runners who want to compete in the race.

The first official woman finisher of the Boston Marathon was Nina Kuscsik in 1972 with a time of 3:10:26. Along with eight other women, all of them crossed the finish line. This just proves women are fully capable of doing great things and competing on the same stage as men.

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