Heartbreak Hill and Boston Marathon
I am not sure if anyone is as excited as me for the Boston Marathon this year. It has truly been a long tough year for many of us running fans. With the Boston bombings last year, the city is looking to try to move forward and have their annual running celebration.
The history of the Boston Marathon is truly remarkable. The inaugural running event was first held in 1897 on the third Monday of April and it has continued to be run on the third Monday of April. Monday April 21st, 2014 will be the 118th running of the event. The Boston Athletic Association has run and directed the event since its inception. In 1897, there were only 15 participants (18 entrants) in the race while in 2014 there will be close to 36,000 participants (courtesy of www.baa.org). John J. McDermott (aka J. J. McDermott), of New York City, was the winner of the first Boston Marathon with a time of 2 hours 55 minutes and 10 seconds. Only 10 of the 15 runners that began the race finished it. He beat his closest competitor by nearly 7 minutes and according to some reports, McDermott walked part of the race.
There have been some truly extraordinary stories to come out of this event, from seven time victor Clarence Demar, to the amazing story of Johnny A. Kelley, who raced the Boston Marathon 61 times. Johnny A. Kelley won the race in 1935 and 1945, while his 1945 victory is probably one of the greatest comeback stories in Boston Marathon history. Johnny Kelley was also the main part of the history behind the infamous Heartbreak Hill legend (The Tap). Then, there was Roberta Gibb, who in 1966 concealed her identity through some of the race because she was a woman. At the time, women were not allowed to compete in the race. Not until 1972, were women allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon.
From 1973 to 1983, American men won eight of eleven Boston Marathons but have not won since (Bill Rodgers winning 4 times 1975 and 1978-80 and Greg Meyer, 1983). While the last American woman to win the Boston Marathon was in 1985, Lisa Larsen Weidenbach (now Lisa Larsen Rainsberger). This year, top American male contenders are Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman and on the women’s side Shalane Flanagan and Desiree Davila Linden. Who will you be rooting for and who do you think will win this year’s Boston Marathon? A list of elite contenders and a list of previous winners are added in the additional resources section. Happy Running!