That the Boston Marathon is the greatest race in the world is pretty much indisputable. Every runner in the world aspires to run Boston at least once. It’s the Holy Grail of marathoning and has been so since the very first one in 1897.
This year, on April 20th –Patriots’ Day in Boston and other parts of New England—nearly 35,000 marathoners will start in suburban Hopkinton with their sights firmly set on the finish line on Boylston Street at Copley Square. Hundreds of Central Texans will also be running the 119th Boston.
Here are 10 fun facts about Boston that you may not know—but should. (This was adopted from an earlier article.)
1. The Boston Marathon is the oldest, continuously held marathon in the world, but contrary to popular belief Boston is not the first contested in America.
The first marathon in the United States was held on September 19, 1896. The race began in Stamford, Connecticut in its town square (now Columbus Park) and finished at Columbia Oval in the Bronx. The winner of the race was John J. McDermott, a 22-year-old Irish immigrant from New York, who ran 3:25:55. The following spring, McDermott would win the first Boston Marathon ever held in 2:55:10.
2. Heartbreak Hill is the most notorious single hill in running on the greatest course in marathoning.
Heartbreak is actually three hills, starting just past mile 17 in Auburndale. The final of the three Heartbreak Hills is the hardest and comes between miles 20 and 21. The top of Heartbreak is in Newton, just before the 21-mile marker.
3. The last of the three Heartbreak Hills was named in 1936 by Boston Globe sportswriter Jerry Nason.
In the 1936 race, John A. Kelley led Tarzan Brown until the last of the Newton hills when Brown surged past to win the race, while Kelley was forced to walk. In his coverage of the race, Nason christened it “Heartbreak Hill” which has stuck ever since.
4. For years, the Boston Marathon started in Ashland, rather than Hopkinton and was about 25 miles long.
For years, the marathon distance varied from race to race. In 1908 at the London Olympics, the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles was established. Starting in 1924, the Boston Marathon starting line was moved from Ashland three miles west to Hopkinton where it has started ever since. The current finish line just past the corner of Exeter and Boylston was first used in 1986. From 1965-85, the finish was a couple of hundred meters up on Boylston, right at the Prudential Center. The historical finish line (1897-1964) was right on the corner of Exeter and Boylston, near where it is today.
5. John A. Kelley is the greatest Boston marathoner of all time.
Kelley won Boston twice (1935 and 1945) and finished second seven times. Although Kelley did not finish his first Boston in 1928, he eventually competed in 61 Boston Marathons. There is a statue of Kelley on the Boston course near Newton at about 19.2 miles, about one mile before the foot of Heartbreak Hill.
6. There are two John Kelleys in Boston lore.
John A. Kelley is known as “Kelley The Elder” and John J. Kelley, the 1957 winner, is known as “The Younger.” The two Kelleys, both deceased, are not related, but Kelley The Elder mentored “Young Kelley.” In turn, Young Kelley, who is from Groton, Connecticut, coached and mentored Amby Burfoot in high school and to his victory in 1968.
7. The most successful Boston Marathoner of all time is Clarence H. DeMar.
Known as Mr. DeMarathon, DeMar won Boston a record seven time. His first Boston was in 1910 and his first victory came a year later when he ran a course record 2:21:39. After winning a bronze medal in the 1912 Olympic marathon, DeMar took a lengthy break from serious running and didn’t win his next Boston until 1922, in another course record of 2:18:10. The last of his seven Boston victories came in 1930 at the age of 41. His final Boston Marathon came at the age of 65.
8.Olympic champions have not fared well at Boston.
The list of Olympic Marathon champions who have also won Boston is short: Joan Samuelson (1979 and 1983, but before she won the Olympic Marathon), Rosa Mota (1987-88, 1990, who won ’88 Olympic Marathon), Fatuma Roba (1997-99, who won ’96 Olympic Marathon) and Gelindo Bordin (1990, ’88 Olympic champ).
9. Boston is the fastest marathon in the world.
Almost all of the Boston marathoners have to achieve a qualifying time to run Boston (5000 charity runners run without a qualifier), so Boston has the cream of the crop. Its median finish time of 3:44 is—by far—the fastest of any marathon, other than the Olympics or Olympic Trials.
10. When our own Dick Beardsley had his famous duel in the sun with Alberto Salazar in 1982, they had at least one thing in common.
At the time, Beardsley was coached by Bill Squires who had been Salazar’s coach when as a high schooler, he ran for the Greater Boston TC.
O Parker Stinson, who ran his last race for the University of Oregon at the NCAA Indoor Champs last month, has turned pro. The former Cedar Park HS star has signed a contract with Saucony and will be represented by Flynnsports which is the agency headed by former world-class miler Ray Flynn.
O Tia Martinez, the former Rogue AC runner, is expecting. Martinez, who moved back to her native Oklahoma, is expecting a girl (along with her boyfriend Reid Regan) in August.
O Carmen Troncoso, the ageless wonder, served as an assistant coach for the junior women, at the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships last weekend in Guiyang, China. The U.S. Junior women finished eighth.
O Michael Budde, one of the top masters in town (he was third master on Sunday at the Austin 10/20), has become an American citizen. Budde, a native of South Africa, has lived in the United States for 18 years and is married to an American. Congrats.
O At the Austin 10/20, Erik Stanley had one of his best races in a couple of years. The former UT All American was nipped at the finish and ended up in third in 49:28 (4:57 pace) which roughly comes out to a 1:05 half. Stanley, who has a half marathon best of 65:50 (set in San Antonio in ’09), needs to lower that to 1:05 to qualify for the ’16 Olympic Marathon Trials. He’ll give it a shot at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half on May 31. You can read the full race report HERE.
O Back on My Feet, a nonprofit which uses running to help homeless people get back on their feet, will have a kickoff event at Luke’s Locker (115 Sandra Muraida) on Tuesday night (April 7th) from 5:30-7 p.m. For every pair of Mizuno shoes sold at Luke’s during April, Mizuno will donate $10 to Back on My Feet. The Mizuno Texas team will be on hand and have test pairs of shoes to take for a run and afterward, there will be light refreshments and a short presentation about Back on My Feet. (Yes, this is a little serf-serving—I work for Mizuno–but it’s a great program.)
O Long-time Austin trigal Laurie Allen—a fixture at High 5 events—is out of intensive care, but still in a rehab hospital after a weird accident that left her paralyzed. No, it wasn’t a bike accident. Allen was sitting in a hot tub in late February with some friends when she decided to get out. Evidently, the side of the tub was icy and she slipped and fell about 10 feet, fracturing a vertebrae in her neck along with other injuries. Although she was initially paralyzed, Allen has regained some movement and has improved considerably. (She’s due to be released from rehab next week.) Allen’s planning to still do triathlons, even if it is from a wheelchair. To contribute to her recovery process (she and her husband Matt are going to have to redesign their home), go to www.gofundme.com/laurieallen.
O The Stanford Invitational is this weekend where many of the top distance runners go to get qualifiers and personal bests in what are usually ideal conditions. Allison Mendez is running the 5000 meters on Friday as are her Rogue AC teammates David Hickerson (5000) and Matt Cleaver (steeplechase).
O Several Longhorns are also running at Stanford. Brady Turnbull and Robert Uhr are running the 1500, Zach Hamstra and Nate Moore are in the steeple, while Ryan Dohner, Mark Pinales and Craig Lutz are in the 10,000. Sandie Raines is entered in the 5000. Megan Siebert is running the 10,000.
O Sad to report that Ellen Rosen-Smith died last Saturday at the age of 58. A personal trainer and runner, nobody loved the Butler/Lady Bird Lake Trail more than Ellen who lived in my neighborhood. In her honor, friends are raising funds for Adopt a Tree to plant two trees—a mountain laurel and an American Elm, Ellen’s favorites—on the trail. So far, more than $3000 has been raised. If you’d like to help, go to www.thetrailfoundation.org/give/ways-to-give/adopt-a-tree.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “A Picture of Nectar,” by Phish. One of my favorite studio albums (along with their other gem, “Billy Breathes”), the boys from Vermont will be gracing the ATX on July 28 at the Austin 360 stage at COTA.
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