April 16, 2012

Boston Marathon History by the Numbers

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Inspired by the first modern-day marathon held at the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first Boston Marathon is held in 1897.

At that first Boston Marathon, there were 18 participants. In comparison, the Boston Marathon now attracts about 20,000 registered participants each year. 26,895 runners registered in 2011.

In 1951, during the peak of the Korean War, the President of the Boston Athletic Association - Walter A. Brown - banned Koreans from running in the Boston Marathon. Brown was president of the BAA from 1941 to 1964.

Women were not officially allowed to run the Boston Marathon until 1972. However, Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb became the first woman to run the marathon (without a registration number) in 1966.

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a registration number. (She registered as "K. V. Switzer.") In a famous incident, a race official - Jock Semple - tried to rip off her number and kick her out of the race.

During the 1980s, professional athletes began refusing to run the Boston Marathon without the promise of cash rewards. The first cash prize for winning the Boston Marathon was awarded in 1986.

The 1996 Boston Marathon, which marked the 100th time the race had been run, set the record for world's largest marathon. 38,708 runners registered, 36,748 runners started, and 35,868 runners finished.

Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the fastest Boston Marathon ever in 2011 with a time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds. Margaret Okayo - also of Kenya - set the women's course record in 2002 with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 43 seconds.

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