The Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon is the pride of the city. Not just the city, all New England shares in the excitement. Heck, since the marathon is now a universal contest, the whole country takes pride in it. To anyone who ever set foot in Boston, the marathon is forever special to you. It’s that amazing.
A little history: Where did the word marathon come from? Many years ago, a Greek foot soldier named, Pheidypedes, traveled from the plains of Marathon to Athens to bring news of their victory over the Persian army. When he got there, he said, “Rejoice! We Conquer.” Then he collapsed.
The Boston Marathon was the brainchild of a member of The Boston Athletic Association, BAA, and a cohort from the U.S. Olympic team, who put their heads together with others in 1896.On April 19, 1897, the first Boston Marathon was held. The course was exactly 24.5 miles and went from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to the Irvington Oval in Boston. John J. McDermott from New York won the race in 2:55:10.
In 1908, the distance was changed for the London Olympics. You see, the Royals wanted to watch the start of the race from Windsor Castle, making the distance from Windsor to the stadium 26 miles. But, the Royals also wanted the race to end in front of the Royal Box, which added another 385 yards. That is still the exact length of the marathon.
Believe it or not, women were excluded from entering the race. The first woman who ran to the finish line was Roberta Gibb in 1966. Since she could not obtain an official number, she hid in the bushes until the race began, then ran to the finish line. But Katherine Switzer applied and received her number bib, since she didn’t mention she was female. Of course, they tried to pull her out of the race, but I think she finished—unofficially. It wasn’t until 1971 that women were allowed to run the marathon. And in 1975, the wheelchair division was added.
The marathon is held on Patriots Day, a holiday celebrated by Massachusetts and Maine, which commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War. In 1969, Patriot’s Day was moved from April 19th to the third Monday in April. And that is today!
The 2015 winner of the men’s elite race is Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, his time was 2:9:17. The 2015 winner of the women’s elite race is Caroline Rotich of Kenya, her time was 2:24:55.
Congratulations to the winners, and to the finishers, and to the ones who tried!!
By the way, do you wonder why I have a jacket?