Today is MARATHON MONDAY and also a holiday in Massachusetts, Patriots Day. I thought I would share some history and fun facts about the Boston Marathon with you!
On a Monday: The Patriots’ Day Race
From 1897-1968, the Boston Marathon was held on Patriots’ Day, April 19, a holiday commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War and recognized only in Massachusetts and Maine. The lone exception was when the 19th fell on Sunday. In those years, the race was held the following day (Monday the 20th). However, in 1969, the holiday was officially moved to the third Monday in April. Since 1969 the race has been held on a Monday. The last non-Monday champion was current Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot, who posted a time of 2:22:17 on Friday, April 19, 1968.
The First Boston Marathon
After experiencing the spirit and majesty of the Olympic Marathon, B.A.A. member and inaugural US Olympic Team Manager John Graham was inspired to organize and conduct a marathon in the Boston area. With the assistance of Boston businessman Herbert H. Holton, various routes were considered, before a measured distance of 24.5 miles from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to the Irvington Oval in Boston was eventually selected. On April 19, 1897, John J. McDermott of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field and captured the first B.A.A. Marathon in 2:55:10, and, in the process, forever secured his name in sports history.
In 1924, the B.A.A. moved the starting line from Ashland to Hopkinton. In 1927, the Boston Marathon course was lengthened to the full distance of 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to Olympic standards.
The Marathon Distance - Why 26.2 miles?
The 1896 Olympic marathon distance of 24.8 miles was based on the distance run, according to famous Greek legend, in which the Greek foot-soldier Pheidippides was sent from the plains of Marathon to Athens with the news of the astounding victory over a superior Persian army. Exhausted as he approached the leaders of the City of Athens, he staggered and gasped, “Rejoice! We Conquer!” and then collapsed.
The marathon distance was later changed as a result of the 1908 Olympic Games in London. That year, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria wanted the marathon race to begin at Windsor Castle outside the city so that the Royal family could view the start. The distance between the castle and the Olympic Stadium in London proved to be 26 miles. Organizers added extra yards to the finish around a track, 385 to be exact, so the runners would finish in front of the king and queen’s royal box. Every Olympic marathon run since the 1908 Games has been a distance of 26 miles, 385 yards.
Second Largest Single Day Sporting Event: In terms of on-site media coverage, the Boston Marathon ranks behind only the Super Bowl as the largest single day sporting event in the world. More than 1,100 media members, representing more than 250 outlets, receive credentials annually.
Spectators: Approximately 500,000 spectators line the 26.2-mile course annually, making the Boston Marathon New England's most widely viewed sporting event, according to estimates by police and public safety officials from the eight cities and towns along the route.
Charity Program: The Boston Marathon Charity Program enables selected charitable organizations to raise millions of dollars for worthwhile causes. In 2009, approximately 1,200 participants, representing 24 charities, raised more than $10.5 million.
Marathon Route Map
P.S. Katelyn is number 22721. You can track her progress at http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon.aspx and of course I'll be giving a blog update complete with pictures once it is over!!!
P.P.S Anyone who is going to the marathon - FYI- The Greater New England Chapter of the National MS Society will have a table/tent at mile 17 right at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. Stop by for some MS pins and bracelets!