“There is no Boston without the Boston Marathon” might be somewhat of an overstatement, but it’s surely close to the truth. The Boston Marathon is not only a hugely popular and meaningful event where runners from all over the world get to compete, it’s a crucial part of Boston’s identity and stands as a monument to the city’s dedication towards more active, environmentally friendly and innovative lifestyle.
The Boston Marathon took place for the first time all the way back in 1897, and that proudly makes it the oldest annual marathon in the entire world. It drew inspiration from 1896 Summer Olympics, during which the first marathon competition was organized, and it was highly successful. It was originally an event meant for the locals only, but its popularity grew rapidly and soon it started attracting runners from all over the world. For better or for worse (and there is no right answer here), monetary prizes were introduced into the Boston marathon in 1980s from sponsoring corporations. The idea was to attract more professional runners who would not compete if there were no cash prizes involved. And while that’s understandable if you make a living out of running, all the way up until then every single runner competed for the idea of it only, and the winners received a symbolic olive branch wreath, making it a highly unique and symbolic event. As of today, the Boston Marathon belongs to the six World Marathon Majors and stands as one of the most well-known running events along with the New York City marathon, the Safaricom marathon and others in the world many aspiring runners aim for.
If you thought your local basketball game gathers up a huge audience, think about this – approximately 500,000 people from all over the country as well as overseas gather to see the runners compete, and that makes it the number one event in New England in terms of the number of spectators. Boston is known for frequent changes in weather, so the runners and the crowd often face challenging conditions, but that has never been an obstacle for the devoted participants.
In terms of the runners, there are around 30,000 each year, making it a massive event that requires months of preparation. Anyone over 18 can participate, but they must meet the qualifying standards to ensure successful completion at least in most cases. The times range from 3h to 4h50mins for men and 3h30mins to 5h20mins for women depending on age group. Those times cannot be self-recorded or anything along these lines; the runners have to run a marathon that qualifies with the International Association of Athletics Federations approximately 18 months prior to the event in Boston.
The race is held on the Patriot’s Day from the early beginnings, and it has become an unchangeable tradition. It starts at 12-12.30pm, but that is flexible and can be adjusted depending on temperature and other factors. The winding roads of Boston serve as the racetrack that is 43.195km to be exact. It presents a challenge even to the most devoted and fit participants.