Boston Marathon Information



No Marathon training page would be complete without some information about the Boston Marathon. When it comes to running marathons, here's the way it usually goes. You run a marathon just to finish as a personal challenge and realize that it wasn't that bad. So you decide to run another one. This time you get more serious about training, and your time improves. Then it hits you and you begin to think, "I wonder if I could qualify for the Boston Marathon." Once you get to that point, it's over. You're officially a marathon runner. Now, if you're a beginner, you may be thinking that since this is your first marathon, qualifying for Boston is the furthest thing from your mind. But be wary, you may just get bitten by the bug and Boston may be your next great obsession.
photographs courtesy of Philip Greenspun


Boston Marathon History

Boston is not just any marathon. It is the oldest annual marathon in the world. It is organized by the Boston Athletic Association. Boston's first marathon was held on April 19th, 1897. April 20th, 2009 will mark its 113th year. Since 1969 it has always been run on the 3rd Monday of April. The long and rich History of the Boston Marathon has also made it one of the most prestigious marathons in the world.


Boston Qualifying Times

Part of the prestige of the Boston Marathon was built by exclusivity. In 2009 the field will be limited to 25,000 entrants. For comparison, the New York marathon has nearly 100,000 entrants, and Chicago has 45,000. Boston's exclusivity means you can't just sign up and run it whenever you want. You have to qualify. While the qualification standards don't eliminate all but the most elite athletes, they aren't a cakewalk either. The Qualifying Times for Boston are set according to gender and age group.


Boston Course

The Boston Course starts in Hopkinton and ends in downtown by Copley Square next to the Boston Public Library. This marathon's prestige is matched only by the infamy of its course. It is considered one of the most challenging marathon courses in the world. The challenge and fear of this course are due to the hill (appropriately named Heartbreak Hill) leading into in Newton, between miles 16 and 21. This is right about the time that most runners are beginning to run out of gas. At this point in the marathon, surely, some runners must think that running Death Valley would be better than Heartbreak Hill.


Boston Winners

In the 112 marathons run in Boston, there have been 81 men's winners. Women have been "unofficially" competing since 1966. In 1972 women were officially allowed to enter. In those 43 marathons, there have been 26 women's winners. With the prestige associated with this race, the Winners at Boston will be immortalized in marathon history.


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