The Boston Marathon 2020
The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's most prestigious road racing events. The Marathon is run on the 3rd Monday in April (Patriot's Day).
The Boston Athletic Association manages this American classic, which is sponsored by John Hancock Financial Services.
The Boston Marathon has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and method of gaining entry into the race (via qualification).
The legendary Boston Marathon course follows a point to point route from rural Hopkinton to Boston, and is certified per the guidelines set forth by the IAAF and USA Track and Field. Of course, the most famous hill in all of running is almost certainly “Heartbreak Hill”, located between miles 20 and 21 of the Boston Marathon course in Newton, MA. Heartbreak is the last of the three Newton Hills that determines the ultimate
success or decomposition at the Boston Marathon.
The distance of the Boston Marathon is exactly 26 miles, 385 yards (42.195 Kilometers).
Viewing the Race
The Boston Marathon is run from the town of Hopkinton to downtown Boston on the 3rd Monday in April (Patriot's Day) each year. This nationally televised event draws hundreds of thousands of spectators to cheer on runners from all over the world.
You can pick a spot on the 26.2 mile course to cheer on runners from around the globe as they head to the finish line near Newbury Street.
Find the perfect location to watch the race with the Marathon course overview.
Marathon Start Times
Mobility Impaired Start: 9am
Wheelchair Division Start: 9:25 am
Elite Women's & USA Championship Start: 9:31 am
Elite Men's Start and Main Start: 10am
To qualify to run the Boston Marathon, entrants must run a qualifying time at a certified marathon. Qualifying times are determined by your age on the date of the Boston Marathon in which you will be participating.
All participants must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the B.A.A., USATF or foreign equivalent, Wheelchair Athletics USA, and the International Stoke-Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation and must meet the standards for eligibility as outlined by these organizations. Qualifying times must be met in competitions observing these same rules. All times are subject to verification. Participants must be 18 years or older on race day.
Boston Marathon History
The First Boston Marathon
After experiencing the spirit and majesty of the Olympic Marathon, B.A.A. member and inaugural US Olympic Team Manager John Graham was inspired to organize and conduct a marathon in the Boston area. With the assistance of Boston businessman Herbert H. Holton, various routes were considered, before a measured distance of 24.5 miles from the Irvington Oval in Boston to Metcalf's Mill in Ashland was eventually selected. On April 19, 1897, John J. McDermott of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field and captured the first B.A.A. Marathon in 2:55:10, and, in the process, forever secured his name in sports history.
In 1924, the B.A.A. moved the starting line from Ashland to Hopkinton. In 1927, the Boston Marathon course was lengthened to the full distance of 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to Olympic standards.
The Marathon Distance
The 1896 Olympic marathon distance of 24.8 miles was based on the distance run, according to famous Greek legend, in which the Greek foot-soldier Pheidippides was sent from the plains of Marathon to Athens with the news of the astounding victory over a superior Persian army. Exhausted as he approached the leaders of the City of Athens, he staggered and gasped, 'Rejoice! We Conquer!' and then collapsed.
The marathon distance was later changed as a result of the 1908 Olympic Games in London. That year, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria wanted the marathon race to begin at Windsor Castle outside the city so that the Royal family could view the start. The distance between the castle and the Olympic Stadium in London proved to be 26 miles. Organizers added extra yards to the finish around a track, 385 to be exact, so the runners would finish in front of the king and queen's royal box. Every Olympic marathon run since the 1908 Games has been a distance of 26 miles, 385 yards.
On a Monday: The Patriots' Day Race
From 1897-1968, the Boston Marathon was held on Patriots' Day, April 19, a holiday commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War and recognized only in Massachusetts and Maine. The lone exception was when the 19th fell on Sunday. In those years, the race was held the following day (Monday the 20th). However, in 1969, the holiday was officially moved to the third Monday in April. The 2004 race will mark the 36th consecutive year the race has been held on a Monday. The last non-Monday champion was current Runner's World editor Amby Burfoot, who posted a time of 2:22:17 on Friday, April 19, 1968.
Women Run to the Front
Roberta Gibb was the first woman to run the full Boston Marathon in 1966. Gibb, who did not run with an official race number during any of the three years (1966-68) that she was the first female finisher, hid in the bushes near the start until the race began. In 1967, Katherine Switzer did not clearly identify herself as a female on the race application and was issued a bib number. B.A.A. officials tried unsuccessfully to physically remove Switzer from the race once she was identified as a woman entrant. At the time of Switzer's run, the Amateur Athletics Union (A.A.U.) had yet to formally accept participation of women in long distance running. When the A.A.U. permitted its sanctioned marathons (including Boston) to allow women entry in the fall of 1971, Nina Kuscsik's 1972 B.A.A. victory the following spring made her the first official champion. Eight women started that race and all eight finished.
First to Sponsor the Wheelchair Division
The Boston Marathon became the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division competition when it officially recognized Bob Hall in 1975. With a time of two hours, 58 minutes, he collected on a promise by then Race Director Will Cloney that if he finished in less than three hours, he would receive an official B.A.A. Finisher's Certificate. American wheelchair competitors Jean Driscoll and Jim Knaub helped to further establish and popularize the division.
Olympic Champions at Boston
Three-time defending women's champion Fatuma Roba became the fourth person to win the Olympic Games Marathon and the B.A.A. Boston Marathon when she posted a 2:26:23 to win the 1997 Boston Marathon. Roba, who won the 1996 Olympic Marathon, joined fellow-women's champions Joan Benoit, who won Boston in 1979 and 1983, before adding the 1984 Olympic Games title; and Rosa Mota (POR), who won a trio of Boston crowns (1987, 1988, and 1990), while adding the 1988 Olympic title. Gelindo Bordin (ITA) is the only male to win the Olympic (1988) and Boston (1990) titles.
Marathon Monday is also known in Massachusetts as Patriots Day. Find Patriots Day events going on near you in our Boston Patriot's Day Events Guide.
DIVISION START TIMES
Mobility Impaired 8:50 a.m.
Push Rim Wheelchair 9:17 a.m.
Handcycles 9:22 a.m.
Elite Women 9:32 a.m.
Elite Men & Wave One 10:00 a.m.
Wave Two 10:25 a.m.
Wave Three 10:50 a.m.
Wave Four 11:15 a.m.
Downtown, Boston, MA map
Thousands run the 26 mile, 385 yard course of the Boston Marathon between Hopkinton and Boston
- The Newton Hills area is a good family-oriented place to spectate.
- Don't drive into Boston!
- Choose your T stop exit carefully. You will not be able to cross Boylston St. except via T underpasses, and they'll be packed.
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