125 Years of the Boston Marathon: The Legend Lives On

Status: 04/18/2022 11:55 a.m.

More than 28,000 runners from 120 nations participate in the 126th Boston Marathon. The attack nine years ago failed to stop the oldest non-Olympic marathon.

By Arthur Landwehr, ARD Studio Washington

Athletes and spectators experience the worst moment in the 125-year history of the Boston Marathon in 2013. Two bombs explode on the side of the racetrack, killing three people and injuring hundreds.

A year later, more runners and spectators are coming than ever to make one thing clear: the legend continues, the oldest marathon outside the Olympics continues to make history.

He started with 15 runners

“The majority of America’s first Olympic team came from the Boston Athletic Society,” marathon historian Tom Grilk explains in a TED Talk. It was in Athens in 1896, during the first modern Olympic Games. The American athletes are so enthusiastic that they organize the first marathon in Boston a year later: with 15 participants including 10 at the finish.

It turns into a big spectacular event. “The event injects $200 million into the local economy, 40 million in donations are raised,” says Grilk.

There are many stories from those 125 years. For example, this one is not sure that runners can survive such a distance. After all, the original marathon runner also died around 2,500 years ago: “Each runner had a cyclist by his side to accompany him if he should collapse.”

Women are only allowed later

Women were only allowed to run in 1972, 50 years ago. But Bobbi Gibb made her protest a success as early as 1966: She hid in the bushes at the start, just ran and ran the full distance. “For me, running was the epitome of life,” she later confessed in a video. The following year, the commissioners tried to force Kathrine Switzer to leave the track.

And then there’s this woman: She appeared out of nowhere in 1980 and won the marathon in a sensational two hours and 31 minutes. But Rosie Ruiz cheated – she secretly hit the trail with less than a mile to go.

Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, in 2016 on the 50th anniversary of her run.

Image: AP

Attack survivor runs again

Back in 2013. One of the survivors of the attack is the dancer Adrianne Haslet. She lost a leg. This year, she will run the Boston Marathon with the support of Olympic runner Shalane Flanagan. “Even more than a race, it’s a celebration of life and the human spirit,” she said.

No runners from Russia and Belarus

Registered runners from Russia and Belarus will not participate. They were expelled after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russians and Belarusians living abroad are allowed to participate – but without the respective national flag.

125 years of the Boston Marathon

Arthur Landwehr, ARD Washington, April 18, 2022 8:58 a.m.

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