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Boston Marathon History: 1956-1960


60th Boston Marathon - Thursday, April 19, 1956

Finland’s Antti Viskari, a sergeant in the military, shattered the former course record by more than four minutes to finish first in 2:14:14. However, his time was just 19 seconds ahead of runner-up John J. Kelley. In fact, each of the first four runners had eclipsed the former mark, which naturally led to questions regarding the exact length of the course.

1. Antti Viskari (FIN) 2:14:14*
2. John J. Kelley (CT) 2:14:33
3. Eino Oksanen (FIN) 2:17:56
4. Nicholas Costes (MA) 2:18:01
5. Dean Thackwray (MA) 2:20:24
6. Theodore Corbitt (NY) 2:28:06
7. Gordon Dickson (NY) 2:28:45
8. Joe Tyler (CA) 2:29:17
9. Robert Cons (CA) 2:29:24
10. Fred Wilt (NY) 2:29:27


61st Boston Marathon - Saturday, April 20, 1957

John J. Kelley ended a streak of 11 foreign wins with an accurately measured, course-record performance of 2:20:05 (course was remeasured after the 1956 race and found to be 1,183 yards short due to road construction since 1951). This was the first win by an American since the 1945 victory of John A. “The Elder” Kelley. Young Kelley disposed of a host of international competitors near 16 miles and won by almost four minutes. The last to lose contact was 1954 champion Veikko Karvonen, as Kelley became the first and only member of the host B.A.A. Running Club to win the Boston Marathon.

1. John J. Kelley (CT) 2:20:05*
2. Veikko Karvonen (FIN) 2:23:54
3. Chiang W. Lim (KOR) 2:24:59
4. Olavi Manninen (FIN) 2:25:19
5. Soong C. Han (KOR) 2:28:14
6. Keizo Yamada (JPN) 2:33:22
7. Gordon Dickson (CAN) 2:37:04
8. Nobuyoshi Sadanaga (JPN) 2:38:13
9. Rodolfo Mendez, Jr. (NY) 2:39:45
10. Alfred Confalone (MA) 2:47:51


62nd Boston Marathon - Saturday, April 18, 1958

An international runner once again found the finish line ahead of the field as Yugoslavian Franjo Mihalic, the 1956 Olympic runner-up, ran to victory in 2:25:54. Almost five minutes behind was John J. Kelley, who finished second at 2:30:51. Before his Boston Marathon career ended, Kelley finished second on five occasions. Mihalic survived the 84-degree day to become the first Eastern European to win the Boston Marathon.

1. Franjo Mihalic (YUG) 2:25:54
2. John J. Kelley (CT) 2:30:51
3. Eino Pulkkinen (FIN) 2:37:05
4. Tony Sapienza (MA) 2:39:46
5. Pedro Peralta (MEX) 2:42:35
6. Shalom Kahalani (ISR) 2:48:00
7. Thomas C. Ryan (CA) 2:50:13
8. Gonzales Scotto (MA) 2:52:07
9. John A. Kelley (MA) 2:52:12
10. Laurence H. Fauber (MA) 2:53:17


63rd Boston Marathon - Monday, April 20, 1959

The Finns continued to show their dominance in the running world as Helsinki police detective Eino Oksanen, third in the 1956 race, claimed the first of his three Boston wins in a time of 2:22:42. John J. Kelley would again finish second (2:23:43).

1. Eino Oksanen (FIN) 2:22:42
2. John J. Kelley (CT) 2:23:43
3. Gordon Dickson (CAN) 2:24:04
4. Veikko Karvonen (FIN) 2:24:37
5. Osvaldo Suarez (ARG) 2:28:24
6. Robert Pape (GBR) 2:28:28
7. Nobuyoshi Sadanaga (JPN) 2:29:30
8. James Green (MA) 2:29:58
9. Alfred Confalone (MA) 2:33:50
10. Geoffrey Watt (AUS) 2:34:37


64th Boston Marathon - Tuesday, April 19, 1960

With Eino Oksanen not returning to defend his title, Finnish countryman Paavo Kotila won this U.S. Olympic trial race in 2:20:54. Kotila left the competition 10 miles into the race for a virtual solo run to the finish. His winning time was the second-fastest ever on the measured course. New York’s Gordon McKenzie made a late rush to finish second in 2:22:18, and James Green of the host B.A.A. Running Club finished third (2:23:37).

1. Paavo Kotila (FIN) 2:20:54
2. Gordon McKenzie (NY) 2:22:18 
3. James Green (MA) 2:23:37
4. Alfred Confalone (MA) 2:26:30
5. Veikko Karvonen (FIN) 2:28:30
6. Alexander Breckenridge (VA) 2:28:44
7. Robert Carman (PA) 2:29:06
8. Robert Cons (CA) 2:30:39
9. Thomas C. Ryan (CA) 2:32:49
10. Robert Drake (CA) 2:34:12


*Course Record


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.