A History of the Boston Marathon


The legendary Clarence H. DeMar of Melrose, Massachusetts won his first of seven Boston Marathon titles. However, on the advice of medical experts, DeMar initially "retired" from the sport following his first title. He later won six titles between 1922 and 1930, including three consecutive from 1922 through 1924. DeMar was 41 years old when he won his final title in 1930.

First Boston Marathon

The B.A.A. Marathon was originally called the American Marathon and was the final event of the B.A.A. Games. The first running of the B.A.A. Road Race commenced at the site of Metcalf's Mill in Ashland and finished at the Irvington Street Oval near Copley Square. John J. McDermott, of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field to capture the inaugural Boston Marathon.


Winner of the 1910 Boston Marathon.

John J. Kelley

John J. Kelley became the first and currently lone B.A.A. club member to win the Boston Marathon. In addition, from 1946 to 1967, Kelley was the only American to win the race. (Info taken from BAA website).

Prize Money

Through the generous support of principal sponsor John Hancock Financial Services, prize money was awarded for the first time, and Rob de Castella of Australia earned $60,000 and a Mercedes-Benz for finishing first in a course-record time of 2:07:51. (Info from BAA website)


In its second running, the B.A.A. Marathon welcomed its first foreign champion when 22-year-old Boston College student Ronald J. MacDonald, of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, won the race in 2:42:00. MacDonald's accomplishment foreshadowed the international appeal the race would later attract. Today, 19 countries can claim a Boston Marathon champion. The United States leads the list with 41 triumphs.


Boston, 1900


1904 Boston Marathon


Thomas Longboat is shown leading the 1907 Boston Marathon. During this race a freight train delayed most of the field, including two Olympic gold medalists, by blocking their path at the Framingham crossing. Longboat turned pro within a year of this victory and never competed at Boston again.


Due to American involvement in World War I, the traditional Patriots' Day race underwent a change of format. A 10-man military relay race was contested on the course, and the team from Camp Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, bested the field in 2:24:53.

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