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Boston Marathon History: 1941-1945

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Leslie Pawson captured his third Boston win with his fastest time (2:30:38) on a balmy 72-degree day. Pawson, now 36, trailed former champions Gerard Cote, John A. Kelley and Tarzan Brown during the early miles. When Pawson made his move, only Kelley responded. Pawson beat Kelley to the finish by 48 seconds as Kelley finished second for the fourth time in eight years.


Benefiting from a cold, 44-degree day, Medford milkman Bernard Joseph Smith smashed Cote's course mark and established an American record with a stunning 2:26:51. At 6'2", Smith was the tallest runner ever to win the race up until this time. Smith was ill the morning of the race and had to be talked into running by his wife. He grabbed the lead from runner-up Lou Gregory past the 21-mile mark, and forced the pace to the finish to eclipse the former record.


The two-year long Cote-Kelley battle began in earnest as the two matched strides for the first 21 miles. Although burdened by a strained Achilles tendon, Cote managed to pull away from Kelley in the final miles to finish first in 2:28:25 and register his second Boston title.


Cote's second consecutive triumph, and third of four, also served as the most frustrating of John A. Kelley's seven runner-up finishes. Kelley had caught Cote three miles from the finish but was unsuccessful in seven attempts to pull ahead. Kelley's game effort left him 60 seconds behind Cote's winning time of 2:31:50 at the finish.


Following a 10-year absence, the 37-year-old John A. Kelley returned to the winner's circle with a triumphant 2:30:40. In contrast to his past efforts, Kelley was not among the early leaders. Instead, he did not catch Guardsman Lloyd Bairstow until Coolidge Corner and proceeded to accelerate to a two-minute, 10-second margin of victory at the 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.