The First Marathon on China's Great Wall



The Boston Marathon

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The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the world, and the most prestigious. Today it has thousands of runners competing each year and takes place the third Monday in April since 1969. As its name implies, it's held in Boston, Massachusetts.

Since its inception, the Boston Marathon has been held on the holiday commemorating Patriot's Day. From 1897 - 1968, the Boston Marathon was held on April 19th, unless the 19th fell on a Sunday. Since 1969, the holiday has been officially recognized on the third Monday in April.

The course is 26 miles, 385 yards. It begins in Hopkinton and ends in front of the Prudential Center in Boston.

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Click on map to enlarge


Its origin was inspired by the marathon in the Olympic Games held in Greece in 1896 when the distance of 24.8 miles was based on the distance run, according to the famous Greek legend in which the Greek foot soldier, Phidippides, was sent from the plains of Marathon to Athens with the news of the astounding victory over the superior Persian army. Exhausted as he approached the leaders of the city of Athens, he staggered and gasped, "Rejoice! We conquer!" then collapsed.

Spyridon Louis of Greece, winner of the first marathon, Athens 1896



 Legend has it that Phidippides ran the 24.8 miles from the small town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. He collapsed and died after he carried the news of the victory.

The modern Marathon commemorates his feat. In honor of Phidippides, the 24.8 mile marathon became part of the Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896. A year later, the Boston Marathon was held for the first time, making it the oldest marathon race in the United States.

Map of the southern Greek mainland.

Distance of Race

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.

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 First Boston Marathon

On April 19, 1897 the first BAA Marathon took place with a fifteen member starting field. The Boston Marathon is over a hundred years old and attracts some of the world's greatest athletes. If ever a sporting event has earned the title "Classic" it is the Boston Marathon.

original 15 member starting field

Women & Wheelchair Participants

Women were not allowed official entry until 1971. It was in 1975 that they included a wheelchair division, the first major marathon to do so.


To qualify to run the Boston Marathon, entrants must run a qualifying time at a certified marathon. Qualifying times are determined by your age on the date of the Boston Marathon in which you will be participating.


Las Vegas Marathon

2nd in Age Group - Qualified him for the Boston Marathon - Dave Leonard - Monterey Herald 1981

Boston Marathon

8th of 2,000 runners in age group - Jerry Stone - Your Health Magazine - 1985


One of only 4 runners out of 27,000 to be featured in the Racer's Recordbook -1981


Exclusive Story seen in Runner's World June 1985

As seen in Runner's World April 1988 - Dr. Randy Eichner M.D.



"I feel a very special kinship to these races:

  • 1896: The Olympic Games in Greece conducted the first marathon from the village of Marathon to Athens.

  • 1984: I ran the original Greek Marathon in Greece from Marathon to Athens. Time-2:53:10

  • 1897: First B.A.A. Marathon

  • 1981: I ran the Boston Marathon. Time-2:51:50

The 1981 Boston Marathon attracted the best men and women runners in the world. President Jimmy Carter pressured the USOC to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Russia. The next year all the great marathon runners that would have run in the Olympics ran the 1981 Boston Marathon. In essence this was the 1980 Olympic marathon that was not held due to Jimmy Carter. A meeting of star runners seeking the Boston Gold instead of the Olympic Gold. It was great to be a part of this select group.

It has been a privilege to be a part of these famous and historic races, and I shall never forget the experience of competing and running in these dramatic events."