7 Facts about the Boston MarathonPosted: April 9, 2012
As a Lasell College senior, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing the phenomenon that is Marathon Monday for the past three years. The pseudo-holiday, as described by urbandictionary.com, “Is often considered, among Bostonians, the greatest day of each year. Falling on the third Monday of each April, the marathon provides a race as a backdrop to the biggest day of drinking and legalized hooky-playing found anywhere in the country.”
Whether you plan to spend this Marathon Monday enjoying one of the greatest athletic competitions of all time or simply enjoying a few, completely legal and responsible, drinks with your friends, here are a few fun facts about the Boston Marathon to remind us all why we come together each year on this day.
- 1. The first modern marathon was held at the 1896 Summer Olympics. The 24.8 mile course was based on the distance run by Greek soldier Pheidippides from the plains of Marathon to Athens, where he carried the news of the Greek army’s victory over Persia.
2. John Graham, manager of the first ever U.S Olympic Marathon Squad, was inspired to organize and conduct a marathon in the Boston area.
3. Only fifteen men ran the first Boston Marathon, which was then called the American Marathon, in 1897.
4. The race has always been held on Patriot’s Day, a holiday celebrated in Massachusetts and Maine to honor the beginning of the Revolutionary War. However, when the Boston Marathon first began, Patriot’s Day always took place on April 19th. In 1969 both the holiday and the race were officially moved to the third Monday of each April.
5. Roberta Gibb was unofficially the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966. She did not run with an official racing bib and concealed herself in the bushes until the start of the race because the race would not accept female participants. The following year, Katherine Switzer was issued a bib number because she hadn’t identified herself as a female on her application. Once race officials became aware that Switzer was in fact female, they tried unsuccessfully to physically remove her from the competition. In the fall of 1971 the A.A.U, or Amateur Athletics Union, allowed women to enter the race for the first time. The following year Nina Kuscsik was officially recorded as the marathon’s first female winner. Eight women started that race and all eight completed it.
6. The Boston Marathon was the first major marathon to offer a wheel chair division.
7. The Boston Marathon is one of the five World Marathon Majors, a championship-style competition for marathon runners that started in 2006.