Why Is Boston Marathon So Famous (What Makes It So Popular)?

Why Is Boston Marathon So Famous?

One of the oldest and most prestigious marathons with worldwide acclaim is the Boston marathon.

For those who do not originate from this city or have much information on marathons or running events, you may wonder why this event is so popular and important.

Natick, Wellesley, Newton, and Brookline are all good places to watch the Boston Marathon, among others. Go early, the marathon usually attracts around 500,000 spectators.

As many people already know, a marathon distance is a standard 26.2 miles, so what makes this one stand out, and why is it considered so challenging?

Boston is an amazing city, but does a marathon running through it deserve such worldwide fame?

This article will go over some of the reasons why the Boston Marathon is so famous to give you an understanding of what makes this annual event so prestigious!

How Much Money Do Boston Marathon Winners Get?

  • First place at the Boston Marathon wins $150,000 in prize money. The prize is the same for men’s and women’s open divisions (the elite runners).
  • Second-place winners earn $75,000, and third place takes home $40,000.
  • The first-place winner of the masters (runners over 40) will get $5,000.

Additionally, there is a $50,000 bonus to anybody who sets a course record.

You Have To Qualify To Run

While qualifying is an aspect of many prestigious marathons, Boston is unique in how it is not as exclusive as a lot of other famous marathons, but still has a level of exclusivity that makes it rewarding and impressive if you have been accepted to race. 

Within a year of pre-registering for the marathon, you will need to have attained a fast enough time depending on your gender and circumstances, which will allow you to take part in the race.

The only other way to compete in the event is if you are running on behalf of a charity.

  • Specific charities are chosen by the Boston Athletic Association and the John Hancock Company to allow other racers to compete if they can complete the run within 6 hours. 
  • This charitable aspect of the run is another reason why it is so highly acclaimed, as each year, insane amounts of money are raised at the event for important causes.

There are countless stories behind competitors taking part in the race which can be found in the extensive journalism surrounding this event.

Since so many people apply each year, the standards of entry had to be tightened as recently as 2012.

But even with the tightened restrictions the race still reaches its massive 25,000 racer limits impressively fast.

Historic Event With Long-Standing Traditions

The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest running marathons outside of Greece having begun all the way back in 1897 inspired by the first modern Olympic marathon in 1896.

This alone would be enough to justify the route having such prestige, but there are other aspects that have given this race such fame.

Many memorable and historic sporting achievements and moments have taken place during the Boston marathon which makes the event more and more legendary each time one happens.

Women and Marathons

One monumental event took place in 1967. At this point in still quite recent history, women were not allowed to compete in sporting events like the Boston marathon.

But this had not stopped some women from trying to compete.

In 1966 and 1967, Bobbi Gibb was able to complete the marathon unofficially under disguise and without a bib.

But in 1967 Katherine Switzer was able to officially run in the event only using her initials and getting a friend to pick up her bib on her behalf.

  • The race went well until her hood slipped off, revealing her identity.
  • Soon after, a traditionalist race organizer almost managed to tackle her off the track to remove her bib but was only able to grab her glove. 
  • She managed to be the first woman to officially finish the race.
  • Momentous occasions like this are part of the reason women are allowed to compete in similar events today.

The fact that important events like this are always happening at the Boston Marathon gives the event a certain air of prestige making it important for runners to try and compete.

Challenging Memorable Route

Challenging Memorable Route

Even though the route of the Boston marathon does not pass the official standards for international records as it has a decline of over 1 kilometer, it is still a memorable route that adds to the event’s fame. 

One of the most standout elements of the Boston marathon is how hilly the route is constantly having steep declines and inclines which add to the difficulty of the course on top of the difficulty that comes with the length of a marathon. 

Halfway through the course, the track goes through the Wellesley tunnel outside Wellesley College. It is more accurately named the “Scream Tunnel”. Traditionally female students go to scream at competitors as well as occasionally kiss them for good luck. 

After this, getting near the challenging endpoint of the race is the infamous “Heartbreak Hill”.

It is the last major hurdle in the event and since it is so near the end it is a point where many runners, especially those not used to hillier routes, give in, not being able to go any further.

Having such a memorable and challenging route with such long-standing traditions adds to the fame of this race.

Remembrance Event

An incredibly unfortunate and unforgettable factor that has increased the notoriety of the Boston marathon is the bombings that took place in 2013.

The attack was carried out by 2 domestic terrorists who placed bombs near the finish line and set them off in mid-afternoon at a busy time for the event with many people celebrating those who were finishing.

The bombings tragically killed 3 people and managed to injure hundreds.

There was worldwide grieving after the tragedy of this attack and soon after the culprits were caught.

The run has not stopped taking place since this occasion, however, with the run in 2014 being held in memorial for those who had lost their lives and those who were injured.

This horrific act of violence did not discourage the patriotic event, and the run is still being held annually.

Final Thoughts

So these are the reasons why the Boston marathon is so important and famous.

You can see why so many runners make it a goal of theirs to compete and hopefully finish such a historic and important sporting event.

Luckily you have other major marathons in the US to aspire for after you’ve ticked the Boston Marathon off your bucket list.

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