Eleni Healy

Eleni Healy

Modified & Updated: 08 Sep 2023

Source: Nytimes.com

The Boston Marathon is one of the most iconic and prestigious events in the world of long-distance running. Held annually on the third Monday in April, this historic race attracts thousands of participants and spectators from around the globe. First run in 1897, the Boston Marathon has a rich tradition and holds a special place in the hearts of runners and sports enthusiasts alike.

From its challenging course to its emotional finish line, the Boston Marathon showcases the determination, grit, and camaraderie that define the spirit of marathon running. In this article, we will uncover 14 fascinating facts about the Boston Marathon that reveal its unique history and significance. Whether you’re a devoted runner, a sports lover, or simply curious about this iconic event, you’re in for an informative and exciting journey. So let’s dive in and discover what makes the Boston Marathon so special!

Table of Contents

The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world.

The Boston Marathon, first held in 1897, is considered the oldest continuously running marathon event globally. It has a long and prestigious history, attracting elite runners and participants from all over the world.

The race is held on Patriots’ Day.

The Boston Marathon takes place on the third Monday in April, which coincides with the Massachusetts state holiday called Patriots’ Day. This day commemorates the anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were the first engagements of the American Revolutionary War.

It is one of the six World Marathon Majors.

The Boston Marathon is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a series that comprises six of the world’s most prestigious marathons. The other races in this series are held in Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City.

Participants must meet qualifying standards to enter.

The Boston Marathon has specific time qualification standards that runners must meet in order to enter the race. These standards vary depending on the runner’s age and gender. Meeting these standards ensures that the race remains competitive and showcases top marathoners.

Heartbreak Hill is a challenging part of the course.

Heartbreak Hill is a notorious incline on the Boston Marathon course, located between the 20th and 21st mile markers. It is a significant challenge for many runners, often requiring extra effort and mental fortitude to conquer.

The first Boston Marathon had only 15 participants.

In the inaugural Boston Marathon in 1897, only 15 runners participated. Today, the race attracts tens of thousands of runners, making it one of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world.

The course is point-to-point.

The Boston Marathon follows a point-to-point course, starting in the town of Hopkinton and ending in downtown Boston. The route takes runners through various cities and towns along the way, including Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and finally, Boston.

Women were officially allowed to compete starting in 1972.

Prior to 1972, women were not officially allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon. However, in that year, women were first granted the opportunity to participate, and since then, female runners have made significant contributions to the event.

The Boston Marathon is known for its enthusiastic spectators.

The race is famous for its vibrant and supportive crowd. Spectators line the entire length of the course, cheering on the runners and providing encouragement. The energy of the crowd is a key factor in making the Boston Marathon a memorable experience.

There is a strict no-bag policy at the start line.

In order to enhance security measures, the Boston Marathon has implemented a no-bag policy at the start line. Runners are not allowed to bring bags or backpacks to the starting area, ensuring the safety of all participants and spectators.

Every participant receives a finisher’s medal.

Regardless of their finishing time, every participant who successfully completes the Boston Marathon receives a coveted finisher’s medal as a symbol of their accomplishment. This tradition motivates runners and serves as a cherished keepsake.

The Boston Marathon has a charity program.

As part of its commitment to giving back, the Boston Marathon offers a charity program that allows runners to raise funds for official partner organizations. Participants have the opportunity to support a cause close to their hearts while participating in the race.

The weather can vary significantly during the marathon.

The Boston Marathon is held in April, which means that the weather conditions can vary greatly. Participants have experienced everything from warm sunshine to heavy rain and even occasional snow. The unpredictable weather adds an additional element of challenge to the race.

The Boston Marathon bombing occurred in 2013.

Tragically, the Boston Marathon was targeted in a terrorist attack on April 15, Two homemade pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line, resulting in the deaths of three spectators and causing injuries to hundreds of others. The incident led to increased security measures in subsequent editions of the race.


In conclusion, the Boston Marathon is an iconic and historic event with a rich history. From its humble beginnings in 1897 to becoming one of the most prestigious marathons in the world, the Boston Marathon has captured the hearts and minds of athletes and spectators alike. With its challenging course, dedicated participants, and vibrant atmosphere, it is no wonder that the Boston Marathon continues to be a beloved event that draws visitors from all over the globe. Whether you are a runner looking to tackle the legendary “Heartbreak Hill” or a fan cheering on the sidelines, the Boston Marathon offers an experience like no other. So lace up your running shoes, join the enthusiastic crowds, and immerse yourself in the excitement and tradition of the Boston Marathon.


1. When is the Boston Marathon usually held?

The Boston Marathon is typically held on the third Monday in April, which is a public holiday in Massachusetts known as Patriots’ Day.

2. How long is the Boston Marathon?

The Boston Marathon is a 26.2-mile (42.195 kilometers) race, which is the standard distance for a marathon.

3. Is there a qualification requirement to participate in the Boston Marathon?

Yes, there is a qualification requirement for most participants. The time required to qualify varies depending on age and gender, and participants must meet the qualifying standards in a previous marathon.

4. What is the significance of “Heartbreak Hill”?

Heartbreak Hill is a notorious incline located around mile 20 of the Boston Marathon course. It is known for its challenging ascent and is seen as a defining moment for many runners.

5. How many spectators typically attend the Boston Marathon?

The Boston Marathon attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators every year, lining the entire course to cheer on the runners and create a festive atmosphere.

6. Can I volunteer at the Boston Marathon?

Yes, the Boston Marathon welcomes volunteers who help with various tasks such as handing out water, providing medical assistance, and supporting the overall logistics of the event.

7. Are there any famous winners of the Boston Marathon?

Yes, the Boston Marathon has seen many legendary runners claim victory, including names like Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers, and Meb Keflezighi, to name just a few.

8. Can I watch the Boston Marathon online?

Yes, the Boston Marathon is usually live-streamed online, allowing viewers from around the world to tune in and follow the race.