Here’s what you need to know about Boston Marathon
This year’s Boston Marathon, which will be held Monday, will be the 122nd running of the race that winds its way 26.2 miles from the town of Hopkinton to the finish line at Copley Square in downtown Boston.
It is the world’s oldest annual marathon, having started in 1897 after the successful debut of the marathon at the first modern Olympics in 1896.
- Race date: The Boston Marathon is traditionally held on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April. The Boston Red Sox also have a traditional home game on Patriots Day with an early 11:05 a.m. first pitch. This season, the Red Sox host the Baltimore Orioles.
- Signature feature: The most famous part of the course comes in between the 20th and 21st mile —Heartbreak Hill. It is an uphill portion of less than a half mile as the runners pass near the campus of Boston College, but it’s considered a crucial part of the race because it’s where participants’ energy often is depleted as they “hit the wall.” There, in 1936, defending champion Johnny Kelley caught race leader Tarzan Brown and gave him a pat on the shoulder as he passed. However, Brown rallied to win and according to the Boston Globe’s account of the race, “broke Kelley’s heart” — hence the name Heartbreak Hill.
- Course records: The men’s record is held by Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, who won the 2011 marathon in 2:03:02. The women’s record, set in 2014, is by Bezunesh Deba of Ethiopia in 2:19:59.
- Defending champions:Kenya swept the 2017 marathon, with Geoffrey Kirui winning the men’s title in 2:09:37 and Edna Kiplagat taking the women’s crown in 2:21:52. In the men’s race, there are three runners — all from Ethiopia — who have run sub-2:05 marathons: Tamirat Tola (2:04:11), Lemi Berhanu (2:04:33) and Lelisa Desisa (2:04:45). Desisa has won Boston twice and Berhanu won it in 2016. Other top contenders on the women’s side include Shalane Flanagan, who won the New York marathon last year; Buzunesh Deba, the 2014 Boston champ and Desiree Linden, who was fourth in Boston last year.
- World marathon majors: Boston is among the six largest marathons, along with Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. A special prize purse is given to runners who accumulate the most points in the majors.
- World Wars: Just five national sporting events were held during the two World Wars, and the Boston Marathon was one. The others? The Kentucky Derby, Penn Relays, Rose Parade and Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
- Tragedy: 2018 marks the five-year anniversary of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, when two explosions took place only a few seconds apart at the finish line. A review of video from the scene focused a tense search for two brothers from Chechnya Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in an encounter with police three days after the bombing. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev finally was captured and sentenced to death by execution after a jury found him responsible for killing three people, seriously maiming 17 and injuring hundreds more.
- TV: Live race coverage will be shown on NBC Sports Network from 8:30 a.m. ET-1 p.m.