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Boston Marathon History: 1936-1940

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1936

So fast was the early pace set by Ellison "Tarzan" Brown, that he beat the press vehicles and writers to the first checkpoint in Framingham. Brown, a Narragansett Indian from Alton, R.I., held the lead throughout the Newton hills until he was caught by John A. Kelley, who put on a swift rush over the hills. As Kelley caught Brown, he patted him on the backside, which prompted a suddenly-inspired Brown to surge back into the lead. Brown won in 2:33:40 as Kelley faded to fifth. Noting the incident, Boston Globe Sports Editor Jerry Nason coined the term "Heartbreak Hill" as the site of Kelley's misery.

1937

An unemployed snowshoe racer from Quebec, Walter Young, battled John A. Kelley for 23 miles on an unseasonably warm day. The lead changed hands 16 times, before Young pulled away to post the victory in 2:33:20. Kelley fell off the pace and finished second, nearly six minutes behind.

1938

Leslie Pawson notched his second Boston win five years after setting the record in the 1933 race. The 75-degree temperature made this a race of attrition. A patient Pawson let Canada's Duncan McCallum force the early pace, and later yielded to John A. Kelley from miles eight through 15. Pawson took the lead for good through Newton Lower Falls and finished first in 2:35:34, a comfortable 66 seconds ahead of the fast-closing Pat Dengis.

1939

Ellison "Tarzan" Brown, the 1936 winner, raced home for his second win in a record-setting 2:28:51 performance. Brown shattered Pawson's 1933 mark of 2:31:01 and became the first American marathoner to run under 2 hours, 30 minutes. Content to run behind the early pace-setting efforts of Pawson and 1937 winner Walter Young. Brown took off at the 17-mile mark and proceeded to break every checkpoint record along the way.

1940

This was the first of Gerard Cote's four Boston wins in the 1940's. The French-Canadian ran through the halfway juncture in Wellesley tucked in 15th place. It wasn't until mile 22 on Beacon Street that he caught the leader, John A. Kelley. Cote outran Kelley to the finish in 2:28:28, breaking Tarzan Brown's one year-old record by 23 seconds.

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B.A.A. Moment 6

1972 - Women Official Entrants in Marathon

Although Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966, it was not until the 1972 Boston Marathon that women could become official entrants due to a change in AAU rules. Pictured (left to right) above are seven of the eight women who participanted in the first official women's field of the Boston Marathon - Nina Kusciak, Katherine Switzer, Elaine Pederson, Ginny Collins, Pat Barrett, Frances Morrison, Sara Mae Berman (not pictured - Valerie Rogosheske).