The Boston Marathon has risen to fame as one of the world’s most notable marathons; people come from all over to participate. However, you may be wondering why this is the case and how the marathon ended up being such a big deal in the first place.
The Boston Marathon is famous for many reasons, relating to its long history and popularity. But most notably, the Boston Marathon is known for the bombing on April 15, 2013, that injured over 200 people and killed three spectators.
The Boston Marathon bombing was international news, and even though the people responsible for this crime were found and brought to justice, it is still an event that strikes deep in American hearts.
Why Is the Boston Marathon So Famous?
If you ask anyone what they know about the Boston Marathon, chances are they will mention the bombing that took place on April 15, 2013. Two terrorists planted two homemade bombs close to the finish line. The bombs were detonated about 3 hours after the first person had finished the race. About 5,700 participants were still running.
Fleeing the crime scene, the two men, who were brothers, killed a police officer, kidnapped a man to use his car, and had a shootout with the police. During the shootout, two police officers were injured, one of them dying. One of the brothers was also shot several times during this, and after his brother ran him over with the car trying to escape, he died.
It was about four days of locking down a 12-block crime area where people were advised to stay in their homes while they searched for the terrorist who had fled. On April 19, 2013, the man, Tsarnaev, was found hiding in a boat in someone’s backyard.
It was a terrible tragedy—and one of the many instances of American communities coming together to aid one another. But despite the dark spot in its history, the Boston Marathon has many other aspects that have made it a proud tradition.
Why Is the Boston Marathon One of the Best in the World?
Runners come from all around the world to race, and if they are strong enough to finish, they can proudly boast that they competed in the Boston Marathon. But why is the marathon so sought after by athletes?
To run the marathon, you have to qualify. You have to have already run a similar marathon with a relatively good time (in about 3-5 hours, depending on age and gender). Therefore, it’s a major goal for many highly competitive athletes.
However, even though it’s viewed as an elite race, it still remains achievable for unprofessional marathoners. Additionally, the Boston Marathon sets aside athletes who compete for twenty-four different charities, raising a minimum of $10 million each year.
The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest, consecutively run marathon, with the first race starting in 1897. It never missed a year until 2020. Therefore, it has a very fascinating history through the years, weaving through American culture.
In the first race, there were only 15 runners. It now has, on average, 30,000 people competing each year. And for the longest time, the race was free until athletes refused to run unless they were paid. So, in 1986, marathoners competed for the Boston Marathon’s first corporate-sponsored cash prize.
The first woman registered to compete was Katherine Switzer in 1967. She signed up only using her initials. Bobbi Gibb was refused to be given a spot the year before, but she finished in 3 hours and 21 minutes. After Switzer, the Amateur Athletic Union changed the rule banning women from competing. In 2015, just under half of the runners were women.
In 1975, the Boston Marathon was the first major marathon to have a wheelchair division, with Bob Hall paving the way by not only finishing the race but finishing in under 3 hours.
Boston Marathon spectators are known to be some of the best spectators in the world. The race takes place on a state holiday called Patriot’s Day, so most locals have the day off. Around 500,000 spectators attend the race every year, lining the streets, setting records for New England’s sporting events. The 26-mile race trails through eight towns bordering several colleges. Therefore, it gives many the chance to come out to watch and cheer on the competitors.
The Boston Marathon is rich in history and notoriety, full of twists and turns. The marathon attracts all sorts of people, from locals to international tourists that desire to take part in this long-standing American tradition. Like any custom, there are millions of little stories that spew forth from this annual event. The fun part is discovering those individual histories—some more famous than others—but they’re all important to keep the tradition alive.