Sunday, April 16

Boston Marathon History

Tuesday, March 15, 1887: The Boston Athletic Association was established, and construction began soon after on the B.A.A. Clubhouse at the corner of Exeter and Blagden Streets.

April 14, 1896: The marathon race at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 served as the inspiration for the B.A.A. Boston Marathon, which was held the following spring.

Monday, April 19, 1897: The B.A.A. Marathon in Boston was originally called the "American Marathon" and was the final event of the B.A.A. Games--inspired by the events in Athens the previous year. The first running of the B.A.A. Road Race commenced at the site of Metcalf's Mill in Ashland and finished at the Irvington Street Oval near Copley Square. John J. McDermott, of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field to capture the inaugural Boston Marathon.

Tuesday, April 19, 1898: In its second running, the B.A.A. Marathon welcomed its first foreign champion when 22-year-old Boston College student Ronald J. MacDonald, of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, won the race in 2:42:00. MacDonald's accomplishment foreshadowed the international appeal the race would later attract. Today, 19 countries can claim a Boston Marathon champion. The United States leads the list with 41 triumphs.

Wednesday, April 19, 1911: The legendary Clarence H. DeMar of Melrose, Massachusetts won his first of seven Boston Marathon titles. However, on the advice of medical "experts," DeMar initially "retired" from the sport following his first title. He later won six titles between 1922 and 1930, including three consecutive from 1922 through 1924. DeMar was 41 years old when he won his final title in 1930.

Friday, April 19, 1918: Due to American involvement in World War I, the traditional Patriots' Day race underwent a change of format. A 10-man military relay race was contested on the course, and the team from Camp Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, bested the field in 2:24:53.

Saturday, April 19, 1924: The course was lengthened to 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to the Olympic standard, and the starting line was moved west from Ashland to Hopkinton.

Thursday, April 19, 1928: John A. "The Elder" Kelley made his Boston Marathon debut. Kelley, who won the race in 1935 and again in 1945, has the record for most Boston Marathons started (61) and finished (58). His final race came in 1992 at the age of 84. Meanwhile, Clarence DeMar captured his second straight title (his sixth overall). To date, only nine champions have returned to successfully defend their title. DeMar is the only one to have posted consecutive triumphs on more than one occasion (1922-24 and 1927-28).

Monday, April 20, 1936: The last of Newton's hills was given the nickname "Heartbreak Hill" by Boston Globe reporter Jerry Nason. When John A. Kelley caught eventual champion Ellison "Tarzan" Brown on the Newton hills, Kelley made a friendly gesture of tapping Brown on the shoulder. Brown responded by regaining the lead on the final hill, and as Nason reported, "breaking Kelley's heart."

Saturday, April 19, 1941: Leslie Pawson of Pawtucket, Rhode Island joined Clarence DeMar as the only champion to win the men's open race three times or more. Pawson first won the race in 1933 and added a second title in 1938. The pair has since been joined by Gerard Cote, Bill Rodgers, Eino Oksanen, Ibrahim Hussein, and Cosmas Ndeti.

Saturday, April 19, 1947: For the only time in the history of the men's open race, a world-record was established at the Boston Marathon when Korean Yun Bok Suh turned in a 2:25:39 performance.

Saturday, April 20, 1957: John J. Kelley became the first and currently lone B.A.A. club member to win the Boston Marathon. In addition, from 1946 to 1967, Kelley was the only American to win the race.

Tuesday, April 19, 1966: Although not an official entrant, Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Joining the starting field shortly after the gun had been fired, Gibb finished the race in 3:21:40 to place 126th overall. Gibb again claimed the "unofficial" title in 1967 and 1968.

Wednesday, April 19, 1967: By signing her entry form "K. V. Switzer," Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to receive a number in the Boston Marathon. By her own estimate, Switzer finished in 4:20:00.

Monday, April 20, 1970: Qualifying standards were introduced. The official B.A.A. entry form stated, "A runner must submit the certification that he has trained sufficiently to finish the course in less than four hours."

Monday, April 17, 1972: Women were allowed to officially run the Boston Marathon, and Nina Kuscsik emerged from an eight-member starting field to win the race in 3:10:26.

Monday, April 21, 1975: A trio of stories emerged from this race, as Bill Rodgers collected his first of four titles, Bob Hall became the first officially recognized participant to complete the course in a wheelchair, and Liane Winter of West Germany established a women's world-best of 2:42:24. Hall was granted permission to enter the race provided that he covered the distance in under three hours. Hall finished in 2:58:00, signaling the start of the wheelchair division in the race.

Monday, April 19, 1982: Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley became the first two runners to break 2:09:00 in the same race after dueling one another for first place over the final nine miles. Salazar emerged victorious from the thrilling final sprint to the finish, with Beardsley just two seconds behind in 2:08:54.

Monday, April 18, 1983: Joan Benoit won her second Boston Marathon in a world-best time of 2:22:43. Benoit, who won the Olympic Marathon the following summer, became the first person to win the Boston and Olympic Marathons. Greg Meyer, a resident of Massachusetts at the time, won the men's race and is the most recent American man to win the Boston Marathon.

Monday, April 21, 1986: Through the generous support of principal sponsor John Hancock Financial Services, prize money was awarded for the first time, and Rob de Castella of Australia earned $60,000 and a Mercedes-Benz for finishing first in a course-record time of 2:07:51. On the women's side, Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway captured her first of two Boston Marathon titles in 2:24:55 (she won her second title in 1989).

Monday, April 18, 1988: Kenya's Ibrahim Hussein finished one second ahead of Tanzania's Juma Ikangaa, and became the first African to win Boston or any other major marathon. Hussein, who also won in 1991 and 1992, established a trend in which African runners won 14 of 16 races.

Monday, April 15, 1996: The historic 100th running of the Boston Marathon attracted 38,708 official entrants (36,748 starters; 35,868 finishers), which stands as the largest field of finishers in history. Uta Pippig overcame a huge time deficit and severe dehydration in the final miles, among other difficulties, to become the first woman of the official era to win the race in three consecutive years.

Monday, April 20, 1998: The performances of Moses Tanui (2:07:34), Joseph Chebet (2:07:37), and Gert Thys (2:07:52) marked the first time in the history of the sport that three runners finished in under 2:08:00.

Monday, April 17, 2000: After seven consecutive victories (1990-1996) followed by three years as runner-up (1997-1999), Jean Driscoll won an unprecedented eighth title in the wheelchair division, moving her past legendary Hall of Famer Clarence DeMar for most all-time victories at Boston.

Monday, April 16, 2001: After an unprecedented ten consecutive victories by Kenyans in the men's race, Lee Bong-Ju of Korea halted the streak with his 2:09:43 win. The last Korean winner at Boston prior to Lee was Kee Yong Ham, who was the men's race champion in 1950.