Only 35 more days until the greatest race in the world, the Boston Marathon!
Because it’s obviously the number one thing on my mind these days, I am giving you fair warning that there will be a lot of talk about it over the next month or so.
And because of that, I thought it would be fun to kick off Marathon Mondays to focus on the Boston Marathon, including some things I’ve learned over my past three trips to the race.
But before we get into all of that, some talk about the history of the Boston Marathon! I get a lot of questions from people (non-runners) why the Boston Marathon is such an important and prestigious race.
For one, it’s the world’s oldest marathon. The first race was held on April 19, 1897 with a total of 15 people. Oh, how it’s grown over the years! That year, the race was won by John J. McDermott of New York with a time of 2:55.10. At that time, the “official” marathon distance was 24.8 miles, based on Pheidippides run from Marathon to Athens.
However, in the 1908 Olympic Games in London, this distance was changed to the official 26.2 miles because of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria who wanted the race to begin at the Windsor Castle so they could watch the start. Well, the distance between there and the Olympic Stadium in London was 26 miles. The extra 385 yards? That was added by organizers so the runners would run around a track and finish in front of the Royal Box for the king and queen.
While the distance of the race may have changed over the years (26.2 just has a better ring to it… am I right?), the Boston Marathon has always been held on Patriot’s Day, a holiday only recognized in Maine and Massachusetts to commemorate the start of the Revolutionary War. In 1969, the third Monday of April officially became the day to celebrate the holiday, so since then, it has always been held on a Monday.
So, when you take into account that it’s the oldest marathon and the fact that it’s held on such a historic day, it starts to reveal the prestige of the marathon. However, a lot of it comes from the races that are held on this course. SO much history, SO many amazing races. Among my favorite is the 1982 Boston Marathon, when Alberto Salazar beat Dick Beardsley by TWO seconds. TWO seconds! Absolutely incredible.
(P.S. If you want to read all about it, I highly recommend “Duel in the Sun” — great book!)
And then of course, when you take into account everything that happened with the bombings in 2013 and Meb’s amazing finish in 2014, it just adds to the history and prestige of the race.
Up next week? The history behind Boston’s qualifying times and what it takes to qualify for the race.
What’s your favorite Boston Marathon moment?
Have you ever run Boston? Do you hope to run it someday?
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