How Old Is Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious long-distance running events in the world, and it has a rich history that dates back over a century. As a passionate runner myself, I have always been fascinated by the origins of this iconic race and its journey through time. So, let’s dive deep into the history of the Boston Marathon and explore its remarkable legacy.

The Birth of an Iconic Race

The Boston Marathon was first held on April 19, 1897, making it the oldest annual marathon in the world. The idea for the race originated from the success of the marathon event in the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Inspired by the spirit of the Olympics, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) decided to organize a marathon in Boston.

The inaugural race had 15 participants, and the course spanned a distance of 24.5 miles, starting in Ashland, Massachusetts, and finishing at the Irvington Street Oval in Boston. In 1908, the course length was officially changed to 26.2 miles, the distance recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as the standard marathon length.

A Symbol of Resilience

Over the years, the Boston Marathon has become much more than just a race. It has become a symbol of resilience and determination, particularly due to the tragic events that took place during the 2013 marathon. On April 15, 2013, two bombs exploded near the finish line, resulting in the loss of three lives and injuring hundreds of others. The incident sent shockwaves through the running community and the world.

However, the response to this act of terror showcased the strength and unity of the running community. The following year, the 2014 Boston Marathon marked a powerful moment of healing and solidarity. Thousands of runners and spectators from all over the world came together to show their support and honor the victims. The spirit of the Boston Marathon had triumphed over adversity.

Qualifying for Boston

One of the unique aspects of the Boston Marathon is its strict qualifying standards. To participate in the race, runners must achieve a qualifying time based on their age group and gender in a certified marathon. The qualifying times are challenging and require a high level of dedication, training, and perseverance.

This qualification system adds to the prestige of the race and creates a sense of accomplishment for those who earn the right to toe the starting line in Hopkinton. For many runners, qualifying for Boston is a lifelong goal and a testament to their determination and hard work.

Traditions and Celebrations

Throughout its long history, the Boston Marathon has developed a number of beloved traditions. One such tradition is the iconic Wellesley College scream tunnel, located around the halfway mark of the race. It is known for its enthusiastic and deafening support from the Wellesley College students, providing a much-needed boost of energy for the runners.

Another cherished tradition is the awarding of the olive wreath, a symbol of victory in ancient Greece, to the winners of the race. The BAA also awards official Boston Marathon medals to all finishers, regardless of their finishing time. These traditions, along with the incredible spectator support along the entire course, contribute to the unique atmosphere of the Boston Marathon.

A Timeless Legacy

The Boston Marathon’s long and storied history has cemented its place as an iconic event in the world of running. From its humble beginnings in 1897 to the global celebration it has become today, this race embodies the spirit of athleticism, perseverance, and community.

So, the next time you watch the Boston Marathon or lace up your running shoes to hit the pavement, remember the incredible journey this race has taken over the past century. It is a testament to the power of sport, the human spirit, and the unwavering determination of runners from all walks of life.


The Boston Marathon is not just a race; it is an enduring symbol of resilience, unity, and the human spirit. From its humble beginnings to the international event it has become today, this race has captivated the hearts and minds of runners and spectators around the world. As a runner myself, I am inspired by the history and significance of the Boston Marathon. Whether you dream of qualifying for Boston or simply appreciate the dedication and passion it represents, this race will continue to be cherished for generations to come.