Road Race Stats - Marathons & Other Running Races

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Long, Long History of the Boston Marathon

As I've researched the history of the Boston Marathon in preparation for next Monday's 109th race, I'm amazed at its long history. The Boston Marathon is the oldest continuously run marathon in the world. It's been around since 1897. What I found interesting is how long it took before it attracted a large number of runners.

It started in 1897 with only 18 entrants. It broke 100 entrants in 1906 (105). It then took over 20 years before it topped 200 (285 in 1928). It took another 36 years before it broke 300 (403 in 1964). In 1963 Sports Illustrated had an article on marathons and Boston in particular that finally sparked interest.

The participation then finally started to grow consistently. It topped 1000 in 1968, 2000 in 1975, and 7000 in 1979. The numbers might have grown much bigger through the last 30 years if they didn't limit it with tough qualifying times. For their 100th anniversary in 1996 they reduced the qualifying requirements, and the number of entrants shot up to 38708 (it was 9416 in 1995). But that was a one time special event. It dropped down to 10471 in 1997. For the last couple of years it's been around 20000.

Participation details can be found at the Boston Marathon site and a large list of Boston Marathon facts are available at Runner's World.

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