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30 Little Known Facts About The Boston Marathon

Posted by Hugo Mendez on


Fact #1: The expected amount of spectators for the 2018 edition: 500,000
Fact #2: The winner with the most unusual name: Ronald MacDonald, Canadian student who won the race in 1898 (wayyyyyy before the fast food chain was even born!), it was not this Ronald McDonald..ūüôĄ..creepy
Fact #3: There are other ways to get into Boston besides qualifying. There are some exceptions made for a limited number of media and friends of race staff, as well as charity runners (up to 2000 charity runners do Boston every year)
Unfair right?!..well..except for the charity runners..good job!¬†ūüôĆ
Fact #4: Marathon organizers once considered a course that would (roughly) follow Paul Revere's famous ride.  The idea was abandoned due to traffic issues in Cambridge and Arlington.
Fact #5: The overall winners snag a prize purse of $150,000 each, an additional $25,000 if they set a course record and the traditional olive wreath (made from leaves picked in Greece)


Fact #6: Runners looking to qualify for Boston (or BQ) usually look for fast and flat courses to increase their chances.  But the majority of qualifiers, once they do their 1st Boston, earn their BQ from Boston itself by running it year after year. So cool, right?

Fact #7: In 1987, the rope preventing the runners from crossing the start line early was accidentally left in place as the gun went off, tripping one elite athlete. This rope has since been replaced with a human chain of volunteers who part just before the pistol fires.


Fact #8: Runners will pass the iconic Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox) in the final miles of the marathon.  A game will coincide with the race, so letting the crowd out in time to cheer on the runners 


Fact #9: Boston is one of the only marathons held on a weekday (Monday). Boston coincides with Patriots Day, a civil holiday celebrated only in Massachutes and Maine, commemorating the first battles of the Revolutionary War


Fact #10: Heartbreak Hill, the most famous incline in the race, has a reputation for being really hard.  However, the highest point on the course is actually the starting line, at 463 feet above sea level. Heartbreak peaks to only 263 feet, but it’s located at mile 20 (that makes sense, right?)

Fact #11:  Women were not included in the race until 1972. Kathrine Switzer famously entered as "KV Switzer" in 1967 and was nearly stopped by official Jock Semple. Switzer dodged his grabby hands and ran on to cross the finish in 4 hours and 20 minutes.


Fact #12: The iconic 73-year-old Citgo (on Kenmore Square) sign lights the way for tired runners. When racers can see the red triangle, there’s just one mile left in their marathon journey.

 Fact #13: Runners must be 18 years old to enter the marathon, but there are no upper limits.  Sister Madonna Budder finished in 5:38 at age 81 (2012)


Fact #14: The marathon is hosted by the Boston Athletic Association (established in 1887).  Ten years laster, it hosted a 24.5-mile road race for 15 participants(only 10 of them made it to the finish line).  The Athletic Association Symbol is a unicorn...

...but not like this one..

...more like this one...


Fact #15: The suburb of Hopkinton (which hosts Boston's starting line ) used to be a luxurious spa destination in the 19th century. Mineral springs thought to have healing powers lured visitors seeking rejuvenation for 25 cents a bath.

Fact #16: On Sunday evening(day before the race), Boston's City Hall Plaza welcome hungry runners who eat more than 11,000 lbs of pasta and unlimited beer.


Fact #17: The starting line is created from a stencil designed by¬†Jack Leduc. He spends up to 30 hours crafting his one-of-a-kind stencil and transferring his art to the pavement‚ÄĒonly for it to be destroyed in seconds by thousands of stomping feet. ¬†Leduc retired this year


Fact #18: The marathon is mostly run outside of Boston. Before hitting Boston, runners will run through Hopkinson, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Wellesley Hills, Newton and Brookline.  Runners don't cross into Boston until after 24 miles in.


Fact #19: When Meb Keflezighi won the marathon in 2014, he was the first American to win the race in 30 years.  The honor the victims of the bombing (2013) he wrote their names in a Sharpie on his bib before pinning it on his singlet


Fact #20: On October 2016, Three-time winner Rita Jeptoo, of Kenya, loses her 2014 title and record for the fastest women's finish ever (2:18:57), as part of a ruling on her two-year ban for doping.


Fact #21: In 1970, the famous  qualifying standards were introduced. At the time, a runner had to prove they could finish a marathon in less than 4 hours. Today the standards vary by age group. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the race, hitting the standard doesn’t always guarantee entry.


Fact #22: Each year, over 8000 volunteers make this amazing race possible.  



Fact #23: The 19th mile finds the "Forever Young‚ÄĚ statue in honor of John A. Kelley. John has the record for completing Boston fifty-eight times. In addition to completing it fifty-eight of his sixty-one starts, he won the race in 1935 and 1945.¬†


Fact #24: While the course is described as windy by some, there are only five notable turns. "I can't even get lost on this course," said professional runner Desiree Linden once


Fact #25: In its early years, the marathon posted signs for odd mile markers, such as 19 7/8. The "random" points were chosen because they helped race officials easily locate the transportation they needed to get from one checkpoint to the next.


Fact #26:  Each year, race director Dave Macgillivray runs the course alone.  As the final finishers run through the line, he heads back to Hopkinton to run the 26.2-mile course in memory of his grandfather, as he's done for almost 4 decades. SO AWESOME!


Fact #27: Since the first Boston Marathon (1897), the women of Wellesley College have cheered on the participants. But during the past 40 years, their section of the race has morphed into a "scream tunnel" with students rotating to keep a consistent cacophony of cheers. Runners claim that they can hear it from more than a mile away, which provides the perfect boost at the halfway point of the race. And as a bonus, some of the women have been known to provide kisses to the racers, too.


Fact#28: During the first few years of the Boston Marathon, the course was only 24.8 miles long.  It was run from Metcalf's Mill in Ashland to the Irvington Oval in Boston.  In 1924, the start was moved from Ashland to Hopkinton extending the race to 26.2 miles. 


Fact #29: The race receives the second largest amount of media coverage in the world for a one day sporting event, second only to the Superbowl.  More than 1,000 members of the media from 200 outlets across the world will cover the the race.


Fact #30:¬†Boston is the fastest marathon in the world. Almost all of the Boston marathoners have to achieve a qualifying time to run Boston (5000 charity runners run without a qualifier), so Boston has the cream of the crop. Its median finish time of 3:44 is‚ÄĒby far‚ÄĒthe fastest of any ‚Äúopen‚ÄĚ marathon.

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