To the over 36,000 runners who will run tomorrow's 118th Boston Marathon, we all wish you good luck for an enjoyable, fast race. It looks as though the weather is going to cooperate, and a slight tailwind should prevail.
For the rest of us, who wish we were joining you tomorrow, here are some Boston Marathon facts with which we can amaze our family and friends as we think about the iconic race.
1. THE STARTING LINE-The Boston Marathon began in 1897, as a 24.5 mile footrace. The original starting line was in Ashland. The B.A.A. moved the starting line back to Hopkinton in order to conform to the internationally recognized marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
2. 1897-In 1897, 18 men ran the inaugural Boston Marathon on the same 39-foot wide road that 36,000 runners will occupy tomorrow.
3. THE CENTENNIAL-In 1996, 38,708 runners, from 84 countries, registered for the centennial race, the largest marathon field in history. Over 35,000 runners finished the race.
4. PATRIOT'S DAY-In Massachusetts and Maine, folks celebrate Patriot's Day, a commemoration of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first skirmishes of the American Revolutionary War, which occurred on April 19, 1775. Patriot's Day is celebrated on the third Monday of April. The Boston Marathon has been held on Patriot's Day since 1897.
5. TRADITION-The Boston Marathon tradition has not always been runner-friendly. Through 2005, the Boston Marathon began at noon. Since 2007, the race has begun at 10:00 a.m.
6. THE 'RUN FOR THE HOSES'-In 1976, the noon start was particularly unfriendly to the runners. Temperatures at the starting line reached 100 degrees. Jack Fultz won the war of attrition, with a time of 2:20:19. All along the route, spectators cooled down the runners with their garden hoses.
7. THE CHAMP-Clarence DeMar holds the record for Boston Marathon victories. From 1911 to 1930, he won the Boston Marathon 7 times, earning him the nickname, "Mr. DeMarathon."
8. DOMINANCE-Since 1988, Kenyan men have won the Boston Marathon 20 times. That's 20 out of the past 28 years.
9. RECORD-A Kenyan runner, Geoffrey Mutai, holds the Boston Marathon record, turning in a time of 2:03:02 at the 2011 Boston Marathon.
10. AMERICAN DROUGHT (MEN)-Greg Meyer is the last American man to win the Boston Marathon. He ran a 2:09:00 at the 1983 race.
11. AMERICAN DROUGHT (WOMEN)-The last American woman to win the Boston Marathon was Lisa Larsen Weidenbach, who won the 1985 race, with a time of 2:34:06.
12. ARE THEY CHEERING FOR ME?-At the 1983 race, I was cruising to the finish line on my way to a personal best of marathon time of 2:22:54. The roar of the crowd was deafening. Were they cheering for me?...Nah! The cheers were for Joan Benoit (Samuelson), who was crushing the world women's marathon record, with a time of 2:22:43. Joan Benoit went on to win the inaugural women's Olympic Marathon in 1984.
13. WHY HEARTBREAK HILL-In 1936, on the fourth and final Newton Hill, Johnny Kelley passed Tarzan Brown, offering a conciliatory pat on the shoulder to Brown. On the subsequent downhill, a reenergized Brown passed Kelly, going on to win the race. It was a "Heartbreak" to Kelley, and the term stuck.
GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF TOMORROW'S BOSTON MARATHON RUNNERS!