The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has organized the Boston Marathon® since the event’s inception in 1897.The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's most prestigious road racing events. The B.A.A. continues to manage this American classic, which has been sponsored by John Hancock Financial Services since 1986. 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).
More than 125 years after its inception, the Boston Athletic Association continues to be a leader within the sport of road racing and annually carries on the tradition of the Boston Marathon. The B.A.A. promotes a healthy lifestyle through the support of comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running programs.
THE MODERN ERA OF THE BOSTON MARATHON
When Guy Morse took the reins of the B.A.A. in 1985, he was given a rotary phone and an empty office in the old Boston Garden. The days of the B.A.A. Games at the Boston Garden and the B.A.A. clubhouse were long gone, but the organization held onto its marquee event, the Boston Marathon, and the B.A.A. Running Club as the only two visible pieces of its illustrious past.
As race director, Morse and the B.A.A.'s Board of Governors attracted a principal sponsor for the Boston Marathon in John Hancock Financial Services and, with John Hancock’s assistance, instituted a prize money structure to help bring the world's fastest runners to Boston. The change not only brought faster runners to Boston; it brought more runners to Boston. Since 1986, the men’s and women’s open division course records have improved a combined seven times and the field size has grown from 4,904 entrants to 27,000 in recent years. The Boston Marathon also attracts approximately 500,000 spectators each year, making it New England’s most widely viewed sporting event.
For the 100th running of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 1996, the B.A.A. worked for years ahead of time in cooperation with the eight cities and towns along the Boston Marathon course to appropriately commemorate the milestone. Through a one-time exception to field size constraints, a record 38,708 runners were given entry into the Centennial Boston Marathon. This single-time field size stood for seven years as the largest in marathon history.
Ten years later, the Boston Marathon partnered with the London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City marathons to collectively launch the World Marathon Majors. This series links the world’s most prestigious marathons and offers a $1 million prize purse to be split equally among the top male and female marathoners in the world each year. In 2013, the Tokyo Marathon joined as the sixth event in the World Marathon Majors series.
The progressive actions of the B.A.A. throughout the years have been reflective of the vision of the B.A.A. Board of Governors. Since the B.A.A.’s inception in 1887, the Board of Governors have voluntarily led the organization through good times and bad. Joann Flaminio, a vice president in the investment industry, has served as president of the Board since 2011, when she took over for Tom Grilk, who served from 2003-2010 in that role. Since January 1, 2011 Grilk has served as Executive Director of the B.A.A.
Through its dedicated leadership, the B.A.A. has demonstrated its commitment to and support of the Greater Boston area, especially the eight cities and towns along the Boston Marathon route. In 2013, the B.A.A. renewed its financial commitment to the towns of Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, and Brookline, the cities of Newton and Boston, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, pledging a total of $2.7 million over a three-year term, with contributions increasing annually.
OFFICIAL CHARITY PROGRAM FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON
The runners of the selected charities of the B.A.A.'s Charity Program for the Boston Marathon raise more than $12 million annually and serve areas of need within Greater Boston. The funds and positive impact are important to the success of the B.A.A.'s mission, and the B.A.A. is proud to support these charities and their fundraising endeavors. With special regard to the field of Boston Marathon qualifiers, the B.A.A. has integrated its charity program into the race in an effort which recognizes the running community in and around the Boston Marathon, and the year-round philanthropic endeavors of the Boston Athletic Association. The Charity Program for the Boston Marathon began in 1989 when the American Liver Foundation became the first charity to receive official entries into the Boston Marathon. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute came aboard in 1990, and since then the program has grown to support at least 30 charities each year.
MORE THAN THE MARATHON
As the Boston Marathon has grown over the years, so has the breadth of the Boston Athletic Association’s events. In 1997, with help from adidas and the City of Boston, the B.A.A. began the B.A.A. Relay Challenge, a thorough youth running program each spring which culminates with middle school students participating in a relay race near the Boston Marathon finish line on race weekend. Each autumn, middle school runners from Boston-based schools compete in the Middle School Cross Country Championships.
Since 2001, the B.A.A. has expanded its calendar of races beyond the Boston Marathon to include B.A.A. 5K, B.A.A. 10K, and B.A.A. Half Marathon events. In 2001, the inaugural B.A.A. Half Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, brought thousands of runners through Boston’s scenic Emerald Necklace Park System. Since 2001, the event has become one of New England’s most popular fall road races. In 2008, the B.A.A. hosted the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Women's Marathon leading to the Beijing Games one day before the 112th Boston Marathon.
One year later, the organization established the B.A.A. 5K, which is held on Boston Marathon weekend each April. The race has quickly grown into a Boston Marathon weekend tradition among runners, spectators, and fans. Immediately following the B.A.A. 5K is the B.A.A. Invitational Mile, a series of races for middle school, high school, and professional runners which start and finish at the Boston Marathon finish line and bring the energy of a track meet to Boylston Street. In 2011, the B.A.A. established the B.A.A. 10K, a scenic tour of Boston’s Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.
The B.A.A. Distance Medley, a three-race series which combines the B.A.A. 5K in April, the B.A.A. 10K in June, and the B.A.A. Half Marathon in October, was established in 2011, with its inaugural running in 2012. Each of the three races has its own champions and prize purse. In addition, the male and female B.A.A. Distance Medley champions, determined by the lowest cumulative gun time from the three races, each earn $100,000 in prize money.
See the 2012 B.A.A. Distance Medley highlight video below: