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Boston Is One of Six Major World Marathons

The World Marathon Majors celebrates the most legendary races in our sport, such as the Boston Marathon.

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The World Marathon Majors (WMM) comprises of six star races— Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York City and Tokyo. Putting these 26.2-milers on your to-do list may sound crazy at first. But any of us who choose to run a marathon have a little bit of crazy—don’t even try to deny it!—and these races are the largest and most legendary in the sport.

“These races are like the grand slam of participatory sport,” says Hugh Brasher, race director for London Marathon Ltd. and son of Chris Brasher, one of the race’s founders. “Anyone who enters is able to run at the same time, in the same conditions and at the same event as the best marathoners in the world.”

The field running to win is tiny compared to the number of participants at these races, but all runners benefit from the world-class organization, thousands of cheering supporters and raw energy of the events, each of which is completely unique.

First up in 2015 is Monday’s Boston Marathon. Find out some facts about this legendary event.

Boston Marathon
April 20, 2015

Dating back to 1897, the world’s oldest annual marathon is the granddaddy of the WMM. You can get in through charitable bibs (i.e., raising money for a cause), but those spots are limited and highly covet-ed—leaving most people to enter by earn-ing a qualifying time. From the start in Hopkinton to the finish at Boston Common, the course is a net downhill of 480 feet, which means Boston is ineligible for world records.

The 2013 race was a dark day for the sport and the city when two bombs detonated at the historic finish line, killing three and injuring more than 260 others. But the 2014 running was a day of celebration, pride and reverence like no other. Runners, spectators and volunteers came out by the tens of thousands, all showing support for this incredible race.

If you’re heading to Beantown, be sure to check out the stunning chalk art at the starting line, carb up with a lobster roll and catch a Red Sox game. If you are still standing around 9:30 or so the night of the race, head back to the finish to watch Race Director Dave McGillivray conclude his post-race personal “race.” He runs the full 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston every single year to honor his grandfather.

Boston Marathon Fast Facts

First Running: 1897
Runners: 30,000
Average Finish in 2014: 4:03
Average Starting Temp: 53 Degrees
Route: Point-to-point
Entries: Qualification and Charity
Women’s Course Record: 2:18:57 by Rita Jeptoo of Kenya in 2014*
Fact: In addition to being the oldest marathon in the WMM, Boston is the only race run on a Monday—the third Monday in April is known as Patriots’ Day and commemorates the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord.

*Jeptoo is now facing a two-year drug ban and may have this record revoked.

About 2015’s Race:

  • All 50 U.S. states are represented.
  • Runners from nearly 100 different countries will toe the line this year.
  • Nine past champions will run this year, including Lisa Rainsberger, the last American to win the women’s race (1985).
  • 10,000 volunteers will help out on Marathon Monday. (Thank you!)
  • New this year, men and women will have two separate starts in Hopkinton.
  • The oldest and youngest competitors are both women. Katherine Beiers of Santa Cruz, CA will be 82 years, 9 months, 3 days on race day. On the other end of the spectrum, Anna Goodwin of Boxborough, MA will be 18 years, 13 days on race day.
  • 166 charitable organizations will be supported in the B.A.A.’s Official Charity Program and John Hancock’s Non-Profit Bib Program.