Race Facts

Boston Athletic Association

Among the nation’s oldest athletic clubs, the B.A.A. was established in 1887, and, in 1896, more than half of the U.S. Olympic Team at the first modern games was composed of B.A.A. club members. The Olympic Games provided the inspiration for the first Boston Marathon, which culminated the B.A.A. Games on April 19, 1897. John J. McDermott emerged from a 15-member starting field to complete the course (then 24.5 miles) in a winning time of 2:55:10. The Boston Marathon has since become the world’s oldest annually contested marathon. The addition of principal sponsor John Hancock Financial Services in 1986 has solidified the event’s success over the past 32 years and ensures it well into the future.

Patriots’ Day

Since its inception, the Boston Marathon has been held on the holiday commemorating Patriots’ Day. From 1897 to 1968, the Boston Marathon was held on April 19, unless the 19th fell on a Sunday. Since 1969, the holiday has been officially recognized on the third Monday in April. The 121st race will mark the 49th consecutive year the race has been held on a Monday. The last non-Monday champion was current Runner’s World Editor-at-Large Amby Burfoot, who posted a time of 2:22:17 on Friday, April 19, 1968.

$830,500 Prize Purse

The total prize money distributed among the top finishers of the 121st Boston Marathon will be $830,500, plus an additional $220,000 if records are broken in the open, masters, or push rim wheelchair divisions. As principal sponsor, John Hancock provided the firstever prize money and bonus awards in 1986 and continues that tradition. The top finishers have received over $18.9 million in prize money and course-record bonuses over the past 31 years. See complete breakdown of the 2017 prize purse. 

Spectators

Approximately 500,000 spectators line the 26.2-mile course annually, making the Boston Marathon New England’s most widely viewed sporting event, according to estimates by police and public safety officials from the eight cities and towns along the route.

Financial Boost

The 2016 Boston Marathon and surrounding Marathon-related events, including the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo and the eighth annual B.A.A. 5K, were estimated to bring $188.8 million in spending impact to the Greater Boston region last year, according to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. This is the highest-ever estimated Boston Marathon spending impact, overtaking the previous high of $181.9 million set at the 2015 Boston Marathon. In 2014, the estimated impact was $175.8 million, while the Centennial Boston Marathon in 1996 drew $172 million.

2017 B.A.A. Distance Medley

The 2017 B.A.A. Distance Medley kicks off during Marathon Weekend with the ninth annual B.A.A. 5K on Saturday, April 15. The three-race series also includes the B.A.A. 10K in June, and the B.A.A. Half Marathon, presented by Dana–Farber and The Jimmy Fund, in October. Last year, B.A.A. runner Andrew Gardiner of Massachusetts and Pamela O’Sullivan of New Hampshire were crowned champions of the B.A.A. Distance Medley. Gardiner’s cumulative time for the three events was 2:04:45, while O’Sullivan’s winning time was 2:22:11. Each of their margins of victory was over five minutes.

B.A.A. 5K

In 2017, for the ninth time, race weekend will include a competitive citizens’ 5K, with a field limit of 10,000 runners. The B.A.A. 5K will be held on Saturday, April 15. The 3.1-mile course is a scenic tour though Boston’s Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods, passing some of Boston’s historical attractions. The race start and finish is at Boston Common, and crosses the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street after approximately 2.5 miles. The race has a $40,000 prize purse at stake, with $7,500 going to the first-place men’s and women’s finishers. This year’s 5K is the kick-off to the 2017 B.A.A. Distance Medley, composed of the B.A.A. 5K, the B.A.A. 10K, and the B.A.A. Half Marathon. American Molly Huddle won for the third straight year in 2016, while Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel captured the men’s title for the third time.

B.A.A. Invitational Mile Races

The top scholastic boys and girls from the cities and towns of the Marathon course, as well as a field of professional male and female milers from around the world, will take off in the eighth annual B.A.A. Invitational Mile on Saturday, April 15. Races begin on Boylston Street, end at the Boston Marathon finish line, and provide an opportunity for athletes of a shorter distance to excel on race weekend. As part of the B.A.A.’s commitment to the cities and towns that host the event, the two top middle-school boys and girls from each city and town will compete in 1,000-meter races around the block on Saturday. The teenage competitors will get to cross the famous Marathon finish line in front of thousands of spectators. Rounding out the event are world-class elite professional races.

Charity Program

Participants running on behalf of more than 200 non-profit organizations raised $30.6 million for charity in the 120th running of the Boston Marathon. The overall total includes $16.5 million raised through the Boston Athletic Association’s Official Charity Program, $11.26 million raised through John Hancock’s Marathon Non-Profit Program, and $2.8 million raised by qualified and other invitational runners.

The majority of the fundraising runners gained entry through the B.A.A.’s Official Charity Program and John Hancock’s Marathon Non-Profit Program, which provide non-profits with guaranteed entries (“bibs”) that enable runners to fundraise for their organizations.

Over the past 31 years, the official B.A.A. Charity Program and John Hancock’s Non-Profit Program have combined to raise more than $264 million for community-based organizations.

Abbott World Marathon Majors

In 2006, the Boston Marathon joined the Virgin Money London Marathon, BMW BERLIN-MARATHON, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and TCS New York City Marathon in launching the World Marathon Majors. In November 2012, the Tokyo Marathon joined the series. Athletes placing in the top five in these events are awarded points (25 for first, 16 for second, 9 for third, 4 for fourth, and 1 for fifth). Points are also awarded for performance at the IAAF World Championships Marathon and the Olympic Marathon. The Abbott World Marathon Majors Series is held over a full calendar year, starting and finishing in one city. Abbott World Marathon Majors Series X began in Boston in April, 2016 and will conclude in Boston at this year’s race on April 17. Starting in 2016, the Abbott World Marathon Majors features a Wheelchair series in addition to the open competition.

Patriots’ Award

Since 2002, the B.A.A. and the City of Boston have presented the Patriots’ Award at a ceremony in the days before the Boston Marathon. Awarded to a New England-based individual, group, or organization that is patriotic, philanthropic, and inspirational, and fosters goodwill and sportsmanship, the Patriots’ Award further unifies the Boston Marathon with Patriots’ Day, the holiday on which the race has been held since 1897.

Recipients of the Award

2002 // Robert and Myra Kraft and the New England Patriots
2003 // Red Auerbach and the Red Auerbach Youth Foundation
2004 // Ron Burton and the Ron Burton Training Village
2005 // Boston Red Sox Foundation
2006 // Rick and Dick Hoyt
2007 // Joan Benoit Samuelson
2008 // Mike Andrews and the Jimmy Fund
2009 // Eddie Doyle and Tommy Leonard, longtime Boston bartenders and philanthropists
2010 // Tedy Bruschi, lifetime New England Patriot and three-time Super Bowl champion
2011 // Carol Fulp, Senior Vice President of Brand Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for John Hancock Financial Services
2012 // Tim Wakefield, long-time Boston Red Sox pitcher and active community philanthropist
2013 // Lt. Colonel Rodney Freeman, founder of the Boston Marathon Shadow Run
2014 // One Fund Boston, Inc.
2015 // Thomas M. Menino Fund for Boston
2016 // Adrianne Haslet

First to Sponsor Wheelchair Division

The Boston Marathon became the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division competition when it officially recognized Bob Hall in 1975. Since that time, the Boston Marathon has hosted over 1,500 competitors in the wheelchair division. This year, they’ll compete for a $84,500 prize purse, with $20,000 going to the first-place finishers.

AT&T Athlete Alert Program

Official runners of the 2017 Boston Marathon can register to send friends and family automatic updates on their progress along the course, using the AT&T Athlete Alert Program. Messages will be automatically delivered to any device capable of receiving short messages, such as a digital cellular phone, pager, hand-held device, or e-mail address. Alerts will be broadcast from the 10-kilometer, half-marathon, 30-kilometer, 35-kilomter, and 40-kilometer marks, as well as the finish, when the runner passes those locations. The B.A.A. first used the electronic timing and scoring device in 1995 on a trial basis with the push rim wheelchair division. All participants in the historic 100th Boston Marathon in 1996 were scored using the ChampionChip.

Club 121 and the B.A.A. Relay Challenge

2017 marks the 21st year of the Boston Athletic Association and adidas’s youth running program, designed to introduce kids to the benefits of the sport of running. “Club 121” is derived from the current year’s Marathon and begins four weeks before the program’s culmination: the B.A.A. Relay Challenge. Coaches train participants each week in one-hour sessions, providing instruction that includes concepts such as teamwork, motivation, and goal-setting. Last year, nearly 750 children from 17 Boston and neighboring-community youth clubs experienced the exhilaration and triumph of crossing the historic Boston Marathon finish line. The Relay Challenge consists of a series of age-group and team-oriented relay races. Club 121 and the B.A.A. Relay Challenge are part of the year-round Training Basics youth program, an initiative created from the partnership between the B.A.A. and adidas. Over 20,800 Boston-area youths have participated in the B.A.A. Relay Challenge since its inception in 1997.

More Age-Group Awards

Top athletes in age-group divisions will receive awards. The age groups are: 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, 60–64, 65–69, 70–74, 75–79, and 80 and older.

Most Boston Marathons: John A. Kelley

One of the most colorful characters in the history of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon, John A. Kelley (no relation to John J. Kelley), was a fixture of the race for nearly seven decades. A starter on race day 61 times, Kelley completed 58 Boston Marathons. Kelley was not only a two-time winner of Boston (1935 and 1945), but he also finished second a record seven times and recorded 18 finishes in the top 10. Kelley first tried the race in 1928, but it was not until 1933, in his third attempt, that he completed the course, placing 37th in 3:03:56. He completed his last marathon at Boston in 1992 at the age of 84. In 1993, the statue “Young at Heart” was dedicated in honor of Kelley. Located at the base of Heartbreak Hill in Newton, a landmark named in reference to one of Kelley’s seven runner-up performances, the statue depicts a young Kelley winning in 1935 at age 27 and clasping hands with an older Kelley finishing in 1991 at age 83. The sculpture stands in tribute to his longevity and spirit. Kelley served as the Boston Marathon’s grand marshal from 1995 to 2004 (missing only 1999 due to illness), preceding the race in a pace car. On October 6, 2004, John A. Kelley passed away, leaving behind an endless trail of contributions to the sport of running that will continue to inspire generations of athletes for years to come.

Four Olympic Champions Have Won Boston

Three-time women’s champion Fatuma Roba (ETH) became the fourth person to win the Olympic Games Marathon and the B.A.A. Boston Marathon, when she posted a time of 2:26:23 to win the 1997 Boston Marathon. Roba, who won the 1996 Olympic Marathon, joined fellow women’s champions Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won Boston in 1979 and 1983 before adding the 1984 Olympic Games title; and Rosa Mota (POR), who won a trio of Boston crowns (1987, 1988, and 1990), while adding the 1988 Olympic title. Gelindo Bordin (ITA) is the only man to have won the Olympic (1988) and Boston (1990) titles.

Only B.A.A. Running Club Champion

2017 marked the 60th anniversary of John J. Kelley becoming the only B.A.A. Club member to win the Boston Marathon, as he established a then-course record of 2:20:05 to capture the 1957 race. Kelley finished second on five other occasions (1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, and 1963). In total, a runner from the B.A.A. has finished in the runner-up spot 10 times; the others were Ted Vogel (1948), John Patrick Lafferty (1951), Pat McMahon (1971), and Patti Lyons Catalano (1979 and 1980). Catalano represented Athletics West when she posted her third consecutive runner-up finish in 1981. John J. Kelley passed away at the age of 80 on August 21, 2011.

Past Champions

Six significant milestone anniversaries are being celebrated in 2015. Among the Boston Marathon champions to be honored in 2015 are Cheri Blauwet (2005), Gelindo Bordin (1990), Lisa Larsen Rainsberger (1985), Geoff Smith (1985), Bill Rodgers (1975), and Morio Shigematsu (1965).

25+ Consecutive Boston Marathons Completed

A total of 81 official participants have completed 25 or more consecutive Boston Marathons.

10-year Anniversary (2007)

Open: Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (KEN); Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS)
Push Rim Wheelchair Division: Masazumi Soejima (JPN); Wakako Tsuchida (JPN)

20-year Anniversary (1997)

Open: Lameck Aguta (KEN); Fatuma Roba (ETH)
Push Rim Wheelchair Division: Franz Nietlispach (SUI); Louise Sauvage (AUS)

25-year Anniversary (1992)

Open: Ibrahim Hussein (KEN); Olga Markova (CIS)
Push Rim Wheelchair Division: Jim Knaub (CA); Jean Driscoll (IL)

30-year Anniversary (1987)

Open: Ibrahim Hussein (KEN); Olga Markova (CIS)
Push Rim Wheelchair Division: Jim Knaub (CA); Jean Driscoll (IL)

35-year Anniversary (1982)

Open: Alberto Salazar (MA); Charlotte Teske (GER)
Push Rim Wheelchair Division: Jim Knaub (CA); Candace Cable-Brookes (NV)

40-year Anniversary (1977)

Open: Jerome Drayton (CAN); Michiko (Miki) Gorman (CA)
Push Rim Wheelchair Division: Bob Hall (MA); Sharon Rahn (IL)

50-year Anniversary (1967)

Open: David C. McKenzie (NZL); Roberta (Bobbi) Gibb

75-year Anniversary (1942)

Open: Bernard Joseph (Joe) Smith (MA)

100-year Anniversary (1917)

Open: William J. (Bill) Kennedy