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Runners, To Your Mark!

This Monday, April 20th, Boston will come together for the 119th Boston Marathon. Known as Marathon Monday to those that call Boston home, this 26.2 mile long race has a deep history and many traditions. As race day approaches, we wanted to spread the knowledge on this race’s history and various traditions.

On Your MarkMarathon Map
The term “marathon” comes from fabled run by the Greek solider Pheidippides. In 490 BC, Pheidippides ran from the Battle of Marathon at Marathon to Athens to tell Greeks of the land victory over the Persians; a battle in which the Athenians were outnumbered 2 to 1. Pheidippides brought news of the Marathon victory to the magistrates in Athens stating in his final breath “Joy to you, we’ve won”. This 25 mile journey, covering a diverse landscape, became the inspiration for the athletic road race, known as the marathon.

At the first Modern Day Olympiad in 1896, 43 events were contested. The marathon was the final event of the nine day multi-sport completion, taking place in second week of April. Just liked the fabled run of Pheidippides, the road race started in Marathon and ended with a lap around Panathinaiko Stadium. To this day, the marathon continues to be the last event of the Olympic Games, having runners finish in the stadium of the closing ceremonies. This inspired run would soon go on to inspire the first of many annual races in a location 4,732 miles away.

Get SetMarathon
The Boston Athletic Association, established in 1887, is among the oldest athletic clubs in the world and almost half of the US Olympic Team in 1896 was comprised of BAA members. The Boston Athletic Association found inspiration in the First Olympiad’s road race and used the revived marathon race to conclude its BAA Games, an athletic competition celebrating the athletic club’s ten year anniversary. Fifteen competitors started the 24.5 mile race in Ashland but only 10 athletes finished the inaugural run. In 1921, the IAAF standardized the distance of the marathon to 26.2 miles and in 1924, the starting line of the Boston Marathon was pushed from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to Hopkinton Green.

Here are some other fun facts about the Boston Marathon and its long history:
– John A. Kelley holds the record for most starts and finishes of the Boston Marathons, 61 starts and 58 finishes. Even though he did not complete his first marathon in 1928, he went on to win in 1935 and 1945 and ran his last marathon in 1992 at the age of 84.
– Heartbreak Hill first got its name from a Boston Globe article in 1936.
– The Boston Marathon was one of only four major events held through World War II; the Kentucky Derby, the Rose Parade and the Westminster Dog Show were held as well.
– From 1897 to 1968, the Boston Marathon was always held on April 19th (unless it fell on a Sunday). Marathon Monday became the 3rd Monday of April starting in 1969.
– The Boston Marathon was the first to officially have a wheelchair division; the division had its first race in 1975.

GO!Marathon Medals
More than 500 marathons are held each year and Boston can say that it is part of World Marathon Majors Series. Compete in and win all six marathons (Boston, Chicago, NYC, London, Berlin and Tokyo) and you can win $500,000. If there is a tie? Wait until the next Olympics to see who wins! Not the world’s fastest runner? There are a variety of marathons that may peak your interest and make that 26.2 miles go by a little faster. The Great Wall Marathon in China includes a run along the Great Wall but adds 5,164 steps to your run. The Walt Disney World Marathon travels through all four of its theme parks! The Rock’n’Roll Marathon (nine different locations throughout the US) has 27 live-music stages that line the route; we hope they are blasting “Eye of the Tiger”.

Whether you are running Heartbreak Hill on Monday or cheering from the sidewalks of Boston, we hope you all enjoy the Boston Marathon!BAA

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