39 Boston Marathon Facts: Trivia That Will Help You Prepare!

Anamika Balouria
Mar 07, 2023 By Anamika Balouria
Originally Published on Mar 03, 2022
Edited by Aubree Mosby
Fact-checked by Amanpreet Kaur
Male elite athletes competing in the Boston Marathon
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.3 Min

The Boston Marathon was established in 1897 as a response to the inaugural Olympic marathon event at the 1896 Summer Olympics.

The first winner was John J. McDermott, who finished the 24.5 mi (39.4 km) marathon distance in less than three hours. The marathon was lengthened from 24.5-26 mi (39.4-41.8 km) and 364 yds (332.8 m) as a result of the route that was taken.

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest ongoing major marathon and one of the most well-known road races. The Olympic champions and Olympic games added a new course for men and women, respectively.

In 2011, Geoffrey Mutai set a course record in the men's category of 2:03:02, and in 2014, Buzunesh Deba was the first to set a course record in the female runner category of 2:19:59. Initially, the Boston Marathon started with 15 participants or runners, but now it has increased to more than 20,000, which fluctuates each year.

The Boston Marathon started after the first marathon event in 1896.

The marathon was not popular initially, but it slowly gained more recognition over time. By 1897, 15 men had completed the race.

This inspired another man named John J. McDermott to run the course and win the marathon. Roberta Gibb was the first female finisher among fellow runners in the marathon race from 1966 to 1968.

Since its beginning, the unicorn has been the emblem of the organization, which was formed 20 years before the race began, since its beginning. The race director, Dave McGillivray, is an American philanthropist.

In 1972, eight women started the marathon and all of them completed it from the starting line of the registered runners. It also made sports history.

In 1967, Katherine Switzer was known to be the first woman who had earned a number among the elite women's race. In 1975, the wheelchair division was added to the fastest marathon in Boston, and Bob Hall is known to have completed the race as per wheelchair division records.

Rosa Mota is known to have won three Boston crowns in 1987, 1988, and 1990.

The Olympic stadium in London is around 26 mi (41.8 km) from Windsor Castle. The four Olympic champions are known to have won in Boston.

Facts About The Boston Marathon

The Boston Athletic Association, founded in 1887, is a non-profit organization dedicated to 'encouraging all manly sports and promoting physical education,' according to its mission statement.

The New York City Marathon, which has been held since 1970, is one of the world's leading marathons.

For 10 years, the Boston Marathon was a 24.5 mi (39.4 km) road race for 15 runners.

Only 10 of them completed the race.

The unicorn, which is the Athletic Association's logo, is seen on the medal of the Marathon.

Boston originally used seemingly random numbers in its milestones, which is something that most races do not do.

Such milestones often look like 'Mile 1,'or 'Mile 15', for example. Although the signs were simply for effect, the checkpoints had been chosen for a reason: to assist event organizers in locating the necessary conveyance to go from one post to another. 

Every year, 30,000 runners participate in the Boston Marathon.

Every spring, approximately half a million people line up to watch them go by, giving the local economy a big boost.

In 2017, tourists, athletes, and fans were anticipated to spend over $192 million in the city—or around $311 per resident.

At the mention of Heartbreak Hill, which sits between miles 20 and 21, non-runners feel their pulses speed up.

Following the 1936 occurrence, Jerry Nason of the Boston Globe invented the phrase.

The rivalry between runners Johnny Kelley and Tarzan Brown began when the two were young.

When Kelley passed Brown in a race, he gave him a pat on the back—a move that enraged Brown and motivated him to victory.

The marathon was held on April 19, 1876 until the year 1969, on Patriots' Day, a municipal holiday dedicated to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

The third Monday in April was designated as Patriot's Day, and the Boston Marathon organizers adopted it on the same day.

'Marathon Monday' is a name given to Patriots' Day by many people.

The Boston Marathon Timeline

The Boston Marathon started with only 15 runners who completed the race in 1897. The first winner of the Boston Marathon was John J. McDermott, who won the race in 2.9 hours.

In 1924, women were allowed to participate in the Boston Marathon for the first time since its establishment.

Due to World War Two, the Boston Marathon was not held between 1941 and 1945.

In 1967, American runners completed the marathon in less than three hours for the first time.

In 1972, women were allowed to participate in four different marathons conducted by the Amateur Athletic Union.

The Boston Marathon is now followed by approximately 500,000 people and has about 500,000 or more live viewers on TV.

In 1980 and 1981, the Boston Marathon was interrupted due to a full-fledged riot that erupted at the finish line.

This became known as 'The Bunion Derby'.

Until 1967, runners had to complete over 20 miles before they were allowed to get water from support vehicles.

Since 1967, water stations have been available every 2 mi (3.2 km) along the route of the marathon.

Starting in 1992, runners were required to provide their timing chips.

The Boston Marathon has about 1,000 volunteers who help conduct the race.

A few months before running the Boston Marathon, some runners participate in 'Packet Pick-up' where they get their race materials.

Until 1965, the Boston Marathon was held on Patriots' Day, which is a public holiday in Massachusetts.

Until 1970, runners were required to give their address and occupation when they registered for the Boston Marathon.

The first wheelchair race was conducted in 1983 after 15 years of petitioning by disability rights groups.

The oldest runner ever to run the Boston Marathon was 81 years old.

The Boston Marathon currently does not allow runners who are 80 years old or older to participate in the race.

According to the Boston Athletic Association, there were about 27 runners who participated in the Boston Marathon after their 100th birthdays.

Boston Marathon Finish Line

Boston Marathon Winners

Arnulfo Quimare of Mexico ran the marathon in 2 hours and 23 minutes. Roberta Gibb is the first woman to have completed and crossed the finish line of one of the Boston Marathons among the female runners.

In 1978, Carlos Lopes of Portugal broke the world record when he finished in two hours, 12 minutes, and 56 seconds.

Belayneh Dinsamo of Ethiopia won the 1988 race with a time of two hours, seven minutes, and 37 seconds.

In the 1985 race, Ibrahim Hussein of Kenya set a record with a time of two hours, six minutes, and 55 seconds.

In 2009, Wesley Korir from Kenya won the Boston Marathon in two hours, 12 minutes, and 40 seconds.

Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot from Kenya finished in two hours, eight minutes, and 44 seconds.

On April 15, 2011, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya set the fastest time when he finished in two hours, five minutes, and 52 seconds.

Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya also broke the record with a time of two hours, three minutes, and 2 seconds on April 21, 2011.

Lelisa Desisa, from Ethiopia, won the Boston Marathon in 2013 with a time of two hours, 10 minutes, and 22 seconds, which is about five minutes faster than Wesley Korir's time in 2012.

Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot holds the world record at two hours, four minutes, and 55 seconds, which he set in 2007.

Boston Marathon Records

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon, which makes it unique.

The original course was 24.5 miles (39.4 km), but this was later increased to 26 miles (42.2 km) because of a miscalculation on the course.

The first Boston Marathon winner, John J. McDermott, finished in 2 hours, 55 minutes, and 10 seconds.

There is a large variety of age groups that can participate in the marathon.

Anyone older than 18 years old can enter the race, which requires them to submit an application and receive a qualifying time before running in the Boston Marathon.

This popular marathon is now followed by approximately 500,000 spectators.

In 2005, the elite women's timing was changed to 11:31 in the morning.

It started with 15 men who completed the race in 1897, and now the Boston Marathon has become an international sporting event that attracts over 30,000 participants.

Anyone older than 18 years old can run in the Boston Marathon, and it takes about 5 months to be accepted for this race.

The Boston Marathon is held every year on Patriots' Day, which is the third Monday of April.


Main image credit: Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock.com

Article image credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com

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Written by Anamika Balouria

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

Anamika Balouria picture

Anamika BalouriaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated and enthusiastic learner, Anamika is committed to the growth and development of her team and organization. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English from Daulat Ram University and Indira Gandhi Institute for Open Learning respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Amity University, Noida. Anamika is a skilled writer and editor with a passion for continual learning and development.
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Fact-checked by Amanpreet Kaur

Bachelor of Business Administration, Masters of Business Administration specializing in Accounting and Finance

Amanpreet Kaur picture

Amanpreet KaurBachelor of Business Administration, Masters of Business Administration specializing in Accounting and Finance

Amanpreet has a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in Business Administration from the Birla Institute of Technology and Xavier Institute of Social Service respectively, coupled with her internships at Decimal Point Analytics and the Royal Bank of Scotland, has equipped her with the necessary skills to analyze complex data and present insights in an easy-to-understand format. Her paper on the impact of COVID-19 on CSR programs has received high commendation.

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