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Boston Marathon History: 1981-1985

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Japan's Toshihiko Seko, the 1979 runner-up, set a course record of 2:09:26 to best Americans Craig Virgin and Bill Rodgers. Seko bettered Rodgers' 1979 mark by one second. He made his move on the backside of Heartbreak Hill, passed Rodgers and focused on Virgin. He overtook the former University of Illinois All-American with less than five miles to go. Seko finished exactly one minute ahead of Virgin, with Rodgers another eight seconds back. New Zealander Allison Roe ran away from Patti Catalano with a course record time of 2:26:46. Catalano finished second for the third straight year, but did set an American record of 2:27:51. Candace Cable, of Las Vegas, Nevada, won the first of her eventual six Boston Marathons in the women's wheelchair division.


One of the most memorable duels in the history of Boston was waged on a sun-scorched afternoon in 1982. Wayland resident Alberto Salazar and Minnesota dairy farmer Dick Beardsley fought one another over the nine-mile stretch from the Newton hills to the finish. Beardsley did the front running, with Salazar tucked in behind on their record pace. With less than one mile remaining, Salazar moved to the front. A sprint finish ensued, and Salazar emerged victorious in 2:08:52, with Beardsley just two seconds back (2:08:54), marking the first time two runners had broken 2:09:00 in the same race. West German Charlotte Teske easily won the women's race with a comfortable 2:29:33 effort, to finished seven minutes ahead of Canada's Jacqueline Gareau. A pair of world bests were established in the wheelchair division, when Jim Knaub (1:51:31) celebrated the first of his five Boston titles, while Candace Cable-Brookes (2:12:43) registered her second.


Michigan native Greg Meyer ran a tactically sound race in 1983 to win in 2:09:00, the third fastest time ever at Boston. Meyer followed the lead of Georgia's Benji Durden and, after a brief surge in the Newton hills, ran the remaining miles alone. Ron Tabb of Oregon closed fast over the final miles to grab the runner-up spot with Durden finishing third. As great as Meyer's race was, there was an even better one on this day. Maine's Joan Benoit shattered the women's world best with a stunning time of 2:22:43. Benoit set out at a mind-boggling 2:17 pace, attacking the course and every record possible along the way with a stern determination. Benoit finished more than two minutes faster than the old world mark, and more than six minutes ahead of second-place finisher Jacqueline Gareau of Canada. For the second consecutive year, Jim Knaub (1:47:10) established a world best in the wheelchair division.


England's Geoff Smith used the Boston race as a qualifier for his selection to the British Olympic marathon team. Most of the top Americans bypassed the race in favor of their own Olympic trials and Smith ran alone to finish in 2:10:34, over four minutes ahead of Connecticut's Gerry Vanasse. Smith's performance earned him a spot on the British team and the women's winner, Lorraine Moller of New Zealand, also qualified for her Olympic team. Moller and countrywoman Allison Roe controlled most of the early front-running, but a sore hamstring forced Roe to drop out and Moller would run uncontested to finish in 2:29:28. Her performance was the fifth fastest ever at Boston.


After two decades the 1985 race was the last to finish at the Prudential Center Plaza. More importantly, the race took on a major new sponsor, John Hancock Financial Services, and the finish was to be moved down Boylston Street to Copley Square. Geoff Smith became the first champion to successfully defend his title since Bill Rodgers (1978-1980) as he scorched the first half of the race in 1:02:51. However, leg cramps at 19 miles forced him to a walk, before he finished in 2:14:05. Lisa Larsen Weidenbach, the 1984 U.S. women's Olympic Marathon alternate, ran uncontested to the finish to win Boston in her first attempt. She finished in 2:34:06, more than eight minutes ahead of Lynne Huntington of Texas. George Murray (1:54:34) and Candace Cable-Brookes (2:05:26) turned in world best performances to win their respective wheelchair divisions.

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B.A.A. Moment 2

1935 John A. Kelley

Born in West Medford, Massachusetts as one of ten children, Kelley ran track and cross-country at Arlington High School in Massachusetts. He did not finish his first Boston Marathon in 1928, but eventually competed in a record 61 Boston Marathons. A legend of the marathon, Kelley won the 1935 and 1945 runnings of the Boston Marathon. He finished in second place at Boston a record seven times. Between 1934 to 1950, he finished in the top five 15 times at Boston, consistently running in the 2:30s. He ran his last full marathon at Boston in 1992 at the age of 84, his 61st start and 58th finish there.