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Boston Marathon History: 1901-1905

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John P. Caffery became the first repeat winner of the Boston Marathon, posting a record time of 2:29:23. Canadian Frank Hughson, who was third the year before, set the early pace only to be caught by Caffery near the halfway mark in Wellesley Square. Bill Davis, a Mohawk Indian whom Caffery had brought with him from Canada, finished second as 1898 champion Ronald MacDonald exited the race at Cleveland Circle. Rumors that MacDonald had been drugged were widely circulated and the topic of much discussion. John Vrazanis, a Greek runner who was eventually forced to drop out due to severe blisters, was the first non-North American to enter the Boston Marathon.


Sammy Mellor, third the previous year, raced to a relatively easy 2:43:12 victory as two-time defending champion James Caffery was forced to withdraw just prior to the start due to dysentery. With a record field of 49 starters (42 finishers), Mellor pulled away from '98 winner Ronald MacDonald just over 12 miles into the race and won by two minutes over J.J. Kenney of Massachusetts. Charlie Moody, a 16-year-old at Brighton High School, finished fourth in 3:03:47.


Nobody expected Cambridge's John C. Lorden to win this year, not with the likes of defending champion Sammy Mellor and two-time champion Jim Caffery set to do battle. Once Lorden put to rest the leg cramps that had bothered him early in the race, he began his pursuit of the two leaders. Caffery withdrew well into the Newton hills and Lorden caught Mellor with less than three miles to go and won going away by nearly six minutes in 2:41:29.


Once again Sammy Mellor led from the start but this time it was Mike Spring, the third-place finisher from the previous year, who led the charge over the final miles. Spring, a 21-year-old clerk from New York, had let Mellor build nearly a four-minute lead by the time he had reached 20 miles. As Mellor faded over the final three miles, five runners passed the tired '02 champion, with Spring hitting the tape in 2:38:04.


A record field of 78 starters saw U.S. Olympian Fred Lorz run himself into near exhaustion while winning in 2:28:25. Lorz, who had been accused of cheating the year before in the Olympic Marathon at St. Louis, caught Sammy Mellor with five miles to go after Mellor had set a record pace throughout the early portion of the race. Defending champion Mike Spring was one of the 38 starters who did not finish.

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B.A.A. Moment 1

1920 - Ashland Start

The Boston Marathon began in Ashland, Massachusetts from 1897 through 1923 then moved to Hopkinton for the 1924 race. The course was lengthened to 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to the Olympic standard, and the starting line was moved west from Ashland to Hopkinton. Since then, the race has started in Hopkinton every year.