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Boston Marathon History: Boston Marathon Facts

2015 Boston Marathon Race Facts

Boston Athletic Association: Among the nation’s oldest athletic clubs, the B.A.A. was established in 1887, and, in 1896, more than half of the U.S. Olympic Team at the first modern games was composed of B.A.A. club members. The Olympic Games provided the inspiration for the first Boston Marathon, which culminated the B.A.A. Games on April 19, 1897. John J. McDermott emerged from a 15-member starting field to complete the course (then 24.5 miles) in a winning time of 2:55:10. The Boston Marathon has since become the world’s oldest annually contested marathon. The addition of principal sponsor John Hancock Financial Services in 1986 has solidified the event’s success over the past 29 years and ensures it well into the future.

Patriots’ Day: Since its inception, the Boston Marathon has been held on the holiday commemorating Patriots’ Day. From 1897 to 1968, the Boston Marathon was held on April 19, unless the 19th fell on a Sunday. Since 1969, the holiday has been officially recognized on the third Monday in April. The 119th race will mark the 47th consecutive year the race has been held on a Monday. The last non-Monday champion was current Runner’s World Editor-at-Large Amby Burfoot, who posted a time of 2:22:17 on Friday, April 19, 1968.

$830,500 Prize Purse at Stake: The total prize money distributed among the top finishers of the 119th Boston Marathon will be $830,500, plus an additional $220,000 if records are broken in the open, masters, or push rim wheelchair divisions. As principal sponsor, John Hancock provided the first-ever prize money and bonus awards in 1986 and continues that tradition. The top finishers have received over $17.3 million in prize money and course-record bonuses over the past 29 years. See page 25 for a complete breakdown of the 2015 prize purse.

2015 B.A.A. Distance Medley: The 2015 B.A.A. Distance Medley kicks off during Marathon Weekend with the seventh annual B.A.A. 5K on Saturday, April 18. The three-race series also includes the B.A.A. 10K in June, and the B.A.A. Half Marathon, presented by Dana–Farber and The Jimmy Fund, in October. Last year, Stephen Sambu (KEN) and Mamitu Daska (ETH) were crowned champions of the B.A.A. Distance Medley. After placing third in the B.A.A. 5K and then taking the victory in the B.A.A. 10K, Sambu headed into the final event with a comfortable lead. His fourth-place finish at the B.A.A. Half Marathon was enough to secure an eight-second win over fellow countryman Daniel Salel. Daska placed second in the B.A.A. 5K, then set event records at both the B.A.A. 10K and B.A.A. Half Marathon to claim her first B.A.A. Distance Medley title by over one minute.

Patriots’ Award: Since 2002, the B.A.A. and the City of Boston have presented the Patriots’ Award at a ceremony in the days before the Boston Marathon. Awarded to a New England-based individual, group, or organization that is patriotic, philanthropic, and inspirational, and fosters goodwill and sportsmanship, the Patriots’ Award further unifies the Boston Marathon with Patriots’ Day, the holiday on which the race has been held since 1897. The recipients of the award have been Robert and Myra Kraft and the New England Patriots (2002); Red Auerbach and the Red Auerbach Youth Foundation (2003); Ron Burton and the Ron Burton Training Village (2004); the Boston Red Sox Foundation (2005); Rick and Dick Hoyt (2006); Joan Benoit Samuelson (2007); Mike Andrews and the Jimmy Fund (2008); longtime Boston bartenders and philanthropists Eddie Doyle and Tommy Leonard (2009); lifetime New England Patriot and three-time Super Bowl champion Tedy Bruschi (2010); Carol Fulp, Senior Vice President of Brand Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for John Hancock Financial Services (2011); long-time Boston Red Sox pitcher and active community philanthropist Tim Wakefield (2012); founder of the Boston Marathon Shadow Run, Lt. Colonel Rodney Freeman (2013); the One Fund Boston, Inc. (2014); and Thomas M. Menino Fund for Boston (2015).

Charity Programs: In 2014, 31 charities combined to raise $20.6 million, bringing the total to nearly $161.5 million in funds raised for Boston-area organizations since the John Hancock Non-Profit Program began in 1989.The program offers local organizations the opportunity to secure invitational entries into the race. These entries provide a significant fundraising opportunity and important exposure for these non-profits. In 2014 over 1,000 John Hancock-sponsored non-profit runners, including more than 150 John Hancock and Manulife employees, raised over $10 million for 125 local charities.Over the past 29 years, the official B.A.A. and John Hancock Non-Profit Programs have combined to raise more than $208 million for community-based organizations.

Abbott World Marathon Majors: In 2006, the Boston Marathon joined the Virgin Money London Marathon, BMW BERLIN-MARATHON, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and TCS New York City Marathon in launching the World Marathon Majors. In November 2012, the Tokyo Marathon joined the series. Athletes placing in the top five in these events are awarded points (25 for first, 15 for second, 10 for third, 5 for fourth, and 1 for fifth). Points are also awarded for performance at the IAAF World Championships Marathon and the Olympic Marathon. The World Marathon Majors Series is held over a full calendar year, starting and finishing in one city. The 2015 series began in February in Tokyo, and will conclude in Tokyo in February of 2016.

First to Sponsor Wheelchair Division: The Boston Marathon became the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division competition when it officially recognized Bob Hall in 1975. Since that time, the Boston Marathon has hosted over 1,500 competitors in the wheelchair division. This year, they’ll compete for a $60,000 prize purse, with $15,000 going to the first-place finishers.

Spectators: Approximately 500,000 spectators line the 26.2-mile course annually, making the Boston Marathon New England’s most widely viewed sporting event, according to estimates by police and public- safety officials from the eight cities and towns along the route.

Financial Boost: The Boston Marathon brings in an estimated $142 million to the Greater Boston economy during race week. The 2014 Boston Marathon and surrounding Marathon-related events were estimated to bring in $175.8 million, the highest-ever Boston Marathon spending impact. The previous highest was recorded at the 100th anniversary race in 1996, which generated $172 million.

AT&T Athlete Alert Program: Official runners of the 2015 Boston Marathon can register to send friends and family automatic updates on their progress along the course, using the AT&T Athlete Alert Program. Messages will be automatically delivered to any device capable of receiving short messages, such as a digital cellular phone, pager, hand-held device, or e-mail address. Alerts will be broadcast from the 10-kilometer,half-marathon, 30-kilometer, 35-kilomter, and 40-kilometer marks, as well as the finish, when the runner passes those locations. The B.A.A. first used the electronic timing and scoring device in 1995 on a trial basis with the push rim wheelchair division. All participants in the historic 100th Boston Marathon in 1996 were scored using the ChampionChip.

B.A.A. 5K: In 2015, for the seventh time, race weekend will include a competitive citizens’ 5K, with a field limit of 10,000 runners. The B.A.A. 5K will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 18. The 3.1-mile course is a scenic tour though Boston’s Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods, passing some of Boston’s historical attractions. The race start and finish is at Boston Common, and crosses the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street after approximately 2.5 miles. The race has a $40,000 prize purse at stake, with $7,500 going to the first-place men’s and women’s finishers. This year’s 5K is the kick-off to the 2015 B.A.A. Distance Medley, composed of the B.A.A. 5K, the B.A.A. 10K in June, and the B.A.A. Half Marathon in October.

B.A.A. Invitational Mile Races: The top scholastic boys and girls from the cities and towns of the Marathon course, as well as a field of professional male and female milers from around the world, will take off in the sixth annual mile races. The races start at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 18. Races begin on Boylston Street, end at the Boston Marathon finish line, and provide an opportunity for athletes of a shorter distance to excel on race weekend. For the sixth year, as part of the B.A.A.’s commitment to the cities and towns that host the event, the two top middle-school boys and girls from each city and town will compete in 1,000-meter races around the block on Saturday after the B.A.A. 5K. The teenage competitors will get to cross the famous Marathon finish line in front of thousands of spectators.

Club 119 and the B.A.A. Relay Challenge: 2015 marks the 19th year of the Boston Athletic Association and adidas’s youth running program, designed to introduce kids to the benefits of the sport of running. “Club 119” is derived from the current year’s Marathon and begins four weeks before the program’s culmination: the B.A.A. Relay Challenge. Coaches train participants each week in one-hour sessions, providing instruction that includes concepts such as teamwork, motivation, and goal-setting. Last year, nearly 800 children from 18 Boston and neighboring-community youth clubs experienced the exhilaration and triumph of crossing the historic Boston Marathon finish line. The Relay Challenge consists of a series of age-group and team-oriented relay races. Club 119 and the B.A.A. Relay Challenge are part of the year-round Training Basics youth program, an initiative created from the partnership between the B.A.A. and adidas. Nearly 19,300 Boston-area youths have participated in the B.A.A. Relay Challenge since its inception in 1997.

More Age-Group Awards: Top athletes in age-group divisions will receive awards, given in five-year increments. The age groups are: 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, 60–64, 65–69, 70–74, 75–79, and 80 and older.

Most Boston Marathons: One of the most colorful characters in the history of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon, John A. Kelley (no relation to John J. Kelley), was a fixture of the race for nearly seven decades. A starter on race day 61 times, Kelley completed 58 Boston Marathons. Kelley was not only a two-time winner of Boston (1935 and 1945), but he also finished second a record seven times and recorded 18 finishes in the top 10. Kelley first tried the race in 1928, but it was not until 1933, in his third attempt, that he completed the course, placing 37th in 3:03:56. He completed his last marathon at Boston in 1992 at the age of 84. In 1993, the statue “Young at Heart” was dedicated in honor of Kelley. Located at the base of Heartbreak Hill in Newton, a landmark named in reference to one of Kelley’s seven runner-up performances, the statue depicts a young Kelley winning in 1935 at age 27 and clasping hands with an older Kelley finishing in 1991 at age 83. The sculpture stands in tribute to his longevity and spirit. Kelley served as the Boston Marathon’s grand marshal from 1995 to 2004 (missing only 1999 due to illness), preceding the race in a pace car. On October 6, 2004, John A. Kelley passed away, leaving behind an endless trail of contributions to the sport of running that will continue to inspire generations of athletes for years to come.

Four Olympic Champions Have Won Boston: Three-time women’s champion Fatuma Roba (ETH) became the fourth person to win the Olympic Games Marathon and the B.A.A. Boston Marathon, when she posted a time of 2:26:23 to win the 1997 Boston Marathon. Roba, who won the 1996 Olympic Marathon, joined fellow women’s champions Joan Benoit Samuelson, 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 man to have won the Olympic (1988) and Boston (1990) titles.

Only B.A.A. Running Club Champion: 2007 marked the 50th anniversary of John J. Kelley becoming the only B.A.A. Club member to win the Boston Marathon, as he established a then-course record of 2:20:05 to capture the 1957 race. Kelley finished second on five other occasions (1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, and 1963). In total, a runner from the B.A.A. has finished in the runner-up spot 10 times; the others were Ted Vogel (1948), John Patrick Lafferty (1951), Pat McMahon (1971), and Patti Lyons [Dillon] (1979 and 1980). Dillon represented Athletics West when she posted her third consecutive runner-up finish in 1981. John J. Kelley passed away at the age of 80 on August 21, 2011.

B.A.A. Moment 3

1966 - Bobbi Gibb

Although not an official entrant, Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Joining the starting field shortly after the gun had been fired, Gibb finished the race in 3:21:40 to place 126th overall. Gibb again claimed the “unofficial” title in 1967 and 1968.