History of the Boston Marathon

Since all eyes are on Boston today, I thought it would be fun to go thru a little event history as we sit in front of our computers awaiting the 8:30 am CST start.

Pretty much every runner from today’s era has not only heard about the Boston Marathon but probably knows a few people standing on the start line right now.  It has become a deep obsession goal for many to hit those qualifying times to someday be competing with all of the other crème de la crème age groupers from the around the world.

Qualifying Standards:

Age Men Women
18-34 3:05 3:35
35-39 3:10 3:40
40-44 3:15 3:45
45-49 3:25 3:55
50-54 3:30 4:00
55-59 3:40 4:10
60-64 3:55 4:25
65-69 4:10 4:40
70-74 4:25 4:55
75-79 4:40 5:10
80+ 4:55 5:25

While I also get excited about the Boston Marathon, I fully acknowledge that I will never probably not be running Boston anytime soon.  In order for me to hit my qualifying time, somebody would have to pick my up in a car at mile 20 and drive deliver me quickly to the finish line. 

This, however, does not delude my excitement about the race or for those running it.  I congratulate all of you who are strong enough and fast enough to make the standards.  I know that for many of you, it was a full-time committment to hard work and serious training to get the standard, then again to toe the start line.

The Boston Marathon is always held on Patriot’s Day in Boston, which is the third Monday in April.  This is a holiday for all of Massachusetts & Maine in observance of the anniversary of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.  Many in Boston also call Patriot’s Day “Marathon Monday” as the marathon is always ran on this day since its inception in 1897 after a very successful kickoff to the 26.2 event during the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens.

The first Boston in 1897 ran with 18 men, entry was “free” and there were no prizes for winning other than the woven olive branch wreath.  This was the case for quite some time and it wasn’t until the 1980’s that prize money started to be awarded to the elite athletes in the top finishing spots.  As most of us know, women were not initially permitted to run and were not officially recognized as legal participants until 1972; however, this was after several women “fought the fight” to participate in years previous.  The first woman to ever run was in 1966, Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb hid in the bushes at the start line and just sprinted out with the men when the gun went off.  The next year in 1967, Katherine Switzer actually registered and ran under K.V. Switzer.  An official did see her and attempt to shove her off the course but her boyfriend intervened and she and her party sprinted off to actually complete the race.  Here is the infamous photo of Ms. Switzer being shoved in an attempt to remove her from this “male only” race.  Source:  KatherineSwitzer

“Boston” has the second largest on site media coverage of any sporting event, second only to the Superbowl.   All eyes are on Boston on Patriots Day, not only in the US but around the world.  This is one of the 5 World Marathon Majors (along with Chicago, New York, Berlin & London) and the best of the best show up in Boston to toe the line each year to run the oldest annual marathon.  The race is a point to point event, starting in the rural New England town of Hopkinton, winding through the hilly New England countryside, several small towns and finishing in Copley Square, Boston.

This year’s Boston is a showcase of the best NON-American world athletes seeing as we just finished the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trails in Houston in January.  Our US athletes are in recovery mode for the 2012 London Olympics and quite possibly glued to the computer screens, just as we are, watching their world competitors race off without them.  So this Boston may not be as exciting to us American’s on the elite level but it is still a world-class event which garners world-wide attention. 

Now, I’m off to watch the race!  Good luck to all of our fast friends running for FUN and competing for those elusive age group awards today.  I know you all will do great!

Sources:  Boston Events: History of the Boston Marathon, Wikipedia – Boston Marathon & Wikipedia – Patriots Day

Happy Running,                                                                                                            Amanda – TooTallFritz

12 thoughts on “History of the Boston Marathon

  1. Pingback: Marathon Training Week 11 « Here We Go

    • Yeah, I’m “pretty” far off, like I’d have to take over an hour off my fastest time. Granted, everytime I run one its over 80 degrees and I go into survival mode but even in “perfect” conditions, I’d still be way tooooooo slow. 🙂

    • Now that’s a thought! I had to reconsult the qualification times, since I don’t have them memorized, and do see that I “may” be able to join you in the 80+ category. If things go really well over the next “few” years, I might possibly be able to squeak in sometime in my 70s.

  2. Maybe some day I’ll be able to qualify for Boston… I think I would like to aim for it at some point in the future. I’ve come to realize that building a strong base is so important for marathon training and I think that is something that hurt me this past year (in addition to everything else). I don’t know if it is a point I’ll ever get to, but I think it wouldn’t hurt to try, if I had the right training and base for it. 🙂

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