First Boston Marathon
April 19, 2024
An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 19 of April, repeating indefinitely
On this day in 1897, the first Boston Marathon took place. Only 15 runners (all men) took part in the race, with John J. McDermott of New York finishing victorious. The number of participants has grown to roughly 30,000 runners in more recent times.
Did you know? Women weren’t allowed to enter the marathon officially for 75 years. Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb however, couldn’t wait until 1972: she became the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon in 1966, but had to hide in the bushes near the start before the race began. Despite the official rules against women runners, the cheering crowds and men in the race were supportive of Gibb’s participation, and she is still remembered for publicly proving women’s capability in distance running.
The marathon always takes place on Patriot’s Day (now commemorated on the third Monday in April) which observes the Battles of Lexington and Concord. After the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, the day has also come to represent the resilience of the city and survivors of the tragedy.
Boston Globe sketch of the first Boston Marathon, April 20, 1897