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Boston Marathon History: 1961-1965

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Eino Oksanen roared back after a year's absence for his second victory in 2:23:39. Battling a chilling wind and a temperature of 39 degrees, the trio of Oksanen, Kelley and England's Fred Norris charged into Newton Lower Falls at a quick pace. Just before the hills, a stray black dog charged onto the course and sent Kelley sprawling onto the pavement. Norris stopped to assist Kelley, who regrouped quickly to briefly catch Oksanen on the Newton Hills. Oksanen's strength proved too much for Kelley, who crossed the lined 15 seconds back as runner-up for the fourth time.


Eino Oksanen captured the last of his three Boston wins with a 2:23:38 performance on a cold and rain-soaked afternoon. Oksanen finished one minute, 20 seconds ahead of countryman Paavo Pystynen (2:24:58) after taking the lead from him near Boston College. John J. Kelley finished fourth, nearly five minutes behind Oksanen.


All eyes focused on the 1960 Olympic Marathon champion Abebe Bikila, of Ethiopia, who went on to win gold in 1964, and countryman Mamo Wolde, the 1968 Olympic Marathon winner. The duo two forged a record-setting pace for the first 18 miles, before Bikila (fifth) and Wolde (ninth) fell victim to a sudden cold east wind and the Newton hills. Belgium's Aurele Vandendriessche saw his opening, and rushed home with a course record of 2:18:58. Again, John J. Kelley finished in the runner-up spot, while defending champion Eino Oksanen finished fourth.


As the field exceeded 300 runners for the first time, defending champion Aurele Vandendriessche successfully defended with a 2:19:59 performance. The lean Belgian attacked the Newton Hills in strong fashion, eventually pulling away from the Canadians and Finns who were engaged in dictating the pace.


It was 10 years since a Japanese runner had last won the Boston Marathon. Morio Shigematsu, who lowered the course record to 2:16:33, led an unprecedented finishing contingent that saw the Japanese finish 1-2-3-5-6. Defending champion Vandendriessche finished fourth to prevent the clean sweep. This was the first B.A.A. Marathon in more than 40 years not to finish on Exeter Street by the Hotel Lenox. Beginning this year and continuing for the next 20, the finish line would be located two blocks away on Boylston Street, in front of the Prudential Building.

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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.