History: The Boston Marathon

by Natalie Yuhas



Marathon Monday is a tradition beloved by the entire city of Boston, and especially by Boston College students.  Every Patriots’ Day, members of the Boston College community gather on Commonwealth Avenue to cheer on the marathoners running past campus. It’s a day filled with camaraderie and spirit that make this city and this campus so special.


The very first Boston Marathon was organized by Boston Athletic Association member and US Olympic Team Manager, John Graham, after he was inspired by the Olympic Marathon. He teamed up with a local businessman, Herbert Holton, and together they planned out the original 24.5 mile route from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, MA to the Irvington Oval in Boston. The distance was selected based on a famous Greek legend where the Greek foot-soldier, Pheidippides, ran 24.5 miles to deliver news of the Greek victory over the Persian army. Upon reaching Athens, Pheidippides exclaimed, “Rejoice! We conquer!” and collapsed.


In 1908, the Olympic Games were held in London. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria wanted the race to begin at Windsor Castle so that they could watch the runners. The distance between London and the Olympic Stadium was a little bit longer, at 26 miles. In 1924, The Boston Marathon course was extended to 16 miles in order to conform to the standard race length set by the Olympic Games.


Between 1897 and 1968, the Boston Marathon was held on April 19, Patriots’ Day, except for when the Holiday fell on Sundays. In that case, the Boston Marathon would be pushed back a day and be celebrated that Monday. In 1969, the race was officially moved to the third Monday of April. The first person to win the Boston Marathon was John McDermott from New York with a time of 2:55:10.


The Marathon has grown and evolved through the years. Now, women and people in wheelchairs participate in the race. It has become a vital piece of Boston culture that draws in thousands of people each year. Despite the bombings that occurred on April 15, 2013, the community only grew stronger and more eager to run. As a graduating senior, I am so grateful that I have gotten the opportunity to participate in the love and support that is the Boston Marathon.

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