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Facts About the Boston Marathon

11 Things You Didn't Know About the Boston Marathon

We're just days away from the Boston Marathon — one of the most respected foot races in the world. You already know that it's 26.2 miles, but did you also know that it is the oldest continuously running marathon? Before Monday's big event, find out even more lesser-known facts about this great race.

  1. Both the starting and finish line of the Boston Marathon stay put all year long. But, despite popular belief, the finish line you see on the day of the race is not painted. According to the Boston Athletic Association, for race day, the finish line is made of adhesive decals, which are placed over a painted line. The decals provide a non-slip surface at the finish line for the participants. The start line, however, is painted without the use of decals. Jack LeDuc, who resides in Hopkinton (which is where the marathon starts) has been hand-painting the starting line for over 30 years. As a proud Hopkinton resident and member of its marathon committee, Jack started this process on his own without advisement from race officials. He's now looked at as an important part of the marathon's tradition by all involved.
  2. The olive wreaths that the winners wear actually come from the Greek government and are made using olive branches grown at the marathon's birthplace, Marathon, Greece. According to the Boston Athletic Association, the olive wreaths were first gilded in 2010; this was done on the occasion of the 2500-year anniversary of the Battle of Marathon in ancient Greece. Gilded wreaths were again presented last in 2014, and will be done again this year.
  3. In 1966, Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb was the first woman to run the full Boston Marathon. She was a "bandit runner" and did not have an official bib or entry, so she hid in the bushes and joined the pack late. Women were (sadly) not allowed to officially run the marathon until 1972. Nina Kuscsik became the first official female winner, beating the other seven women who started and finished the race that day.
  4. The Boston Red Sox play a home game every year during the Boston Marathon. The game finishes just in time for the baseball fans to spill into Kenmore Square to cheer on runners who are entering their final mile.
  5. Less than two miles of the marathon course take place in Boston city proper. Before runners make their way onto Beacon Street, they take run through eight Massachusetts cities and towns.
  6. More than one million spectators line the course each year, making it the largest sporting event in New England.
  7. While the course is described as windy by some, there are only five notable turns. "I can't even get lost on this course," said professional runner Desiree Linden.
  8. Boston was the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division. While wheelchair participants began racing in the early 1970s, it wasn't until in 1975 that Bob Hall became the first to be formally recognized by race officials, finishing in 2:58.
  9. In order to run the Boston Marathon, you must meet specific age- and gender-based specifications. For instance, to qualify to run in the 2016 Boston Marathon, women age 18-34 must have completed a previous marathon after September 2014 with a time of 3:35 or less. The exception to this rule is if you run with a charity group.
  10. While it's debatable whether or not running with a pace group is beneficial, many runners are surprised to find out that the Boston Marathon does not allow pacers of any kind. It really is just you and the road.
  11. Less than one second separates the closest race in the Boston Marathon: Elijah Lagat just barely beat Gezahegne Abera during the 2000 marathon.
Image Source: Getty
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