Boston Marathon: 26.2 Fun Facts About This Famous Race

Did you run the Boston Marathon?

Or maybe you were there on Monday cheering on runners chasing the 26.2-mile finish line.

Right now, thousands of Boston Marathon finishers are on a post-marathon high thinking about their own personal victories from Hopkinton, Mass., to downton Boston.

It’s the most famous marathon in the world. But there’s a lot about the Boston Marathon you might not know.

Check out these 26.2 fun facts about the Boston Marathon.

1. And the winners are...

The first place finishers at the 126th Boston Marathon are:

  • Men's race: Evans Chebet (Kenya). Time: 2:06:51.
  • Women's race: Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya). Time: 2:21:01.

2. Run with the crowd

The Boston Marathon is the most famous marathon in the world. But it's also one of the largest.

3. Super-spectator support

Running 26.2 miles is hard. But at the Boston Marathon, runners get a lot of support from spectators as they make their way from Hopkinton, Mass., to downtown Boston.

  • An estimated 500,000 spectators line the course to cheer on runners at the Boston Marathon.

4. Age is just a number

This year, the two oldest Boston Marathon finishers are both 81 years old.

  • Milos Kostic (Regina, Canada). Time:  4:48:01 
  • Henry Reeves (Charlottesville, Va.). Time: 5:51:42
  • 35 runners age 65 and older finished the Boston Marathon
  • The oldest person to finish the Boston Marathon? Several 85-year-olds have done it.

5. Count your steps

Like tracking steps on your phone, watch, or fitness tracker? Check this out. The average step count to finish the Boston Marathon is:

  • Men: 55,374 steps
  • Women: 62,926 steps

6. Mondays are for marathons

Ever wonder why the Boston Marathon is held on the third Monday in April?

It's Patriot's Day. It's a state-observed holiday in Maine and Massachusetts.

The holiday commemorates early battles fought in the area during the Revolutionary War.

7. Run it fast

The course records for the Boston Marathon are:

Men: Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) Time: 2:03:02 in 2011
Women: Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) Time: 2:19:59 in 2014 

8. Give me that race bib

Did you know women were once prohibited from running the Boston Marathon?

  • In 1967 Katherine Switzer signed up to run the Boston Marathon using only her initials K.V. Switzer.
  • When race official Jock Semple learned she was running the race, he tried to rip her bib number off. But friends kept that from happening so she could finish.
  • In 1972, women were officially allowed to participate in the Boston Marathon.
  • Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon incognito in 1966.

9. Cash in on running

Finish in the top 10 at the Boston Marathon, and you'll get more than a medal, T-shirt, and race swag:

Prize money for winners includes:

  • 1st place: $150,000
  • 2nd place: $75,000
  • 3rd place: $40,000
  • 4th place: $25,000
  • 5th place: $18,000
  • 6th place: $13,500
  • 7th place: $10,500
  • 8th place: $8,500
  • 9th place: $7,000
  • 10th place: $5,500
  • Bonus: Break the course record for an extra $50,000

10. Step into the Boston Marathon wayback machine

How long has the Boston Marathon been around?

Well, this year marked the 126th year of the race. 

The first Boston Marathon was held in 1897. 

Runners have been stepping up to this starting line longer than any other marathon in the world.

11. Run with heart

There's a famous section along the Boston Marathon route that can make or break you.

Heartbreak Hill. It's tough climb around mile 20. But it's downhill to the finish after that. 

12. High-noon...not anymore

Did you know the Boston Marathon used to start at noon?

  • The Boston Athletic Association changed the start time to 10 a.m. in 2007.

13. Bathroom stories

Ever wonder how many port-a-potties the Boston Marathon needs for the event?

  • About 1,000. And it's never enough. Just ask anyone who's been there to tell you their bathroom story.

14. Anti-chafing challenge

Run enough miles, and you're bound to experience chafing.

So how does the Boston Marathon help runners deal with it?

  • Stocking aid stations with 150 pounds of petroleum jelly.

15. Put a pin in it

Pick up your race packet at the Boston Marathon Expo, and you'll get your race bib (and other swag), along with safety pins to attach your race number. 

  • The Boston Marathon gives out about 100,000 safety pins 

16. Potassium power

Need an easy-to-digest food source to prevent cramping and boost energy? Grab a banana.

  • There's an estimated 28,000 bananas at aid stations along the Boston Marathon route.

17. Gulp and go

There's 26 aid stations along the Boston Marathon route where you can get help. 

Thirsty? Feeling dehydrated? Stop at an aid station...

  • Runners drink about 35,000 gallons of water on race day.

18. Maybe next year

Thinking about running the Boston Marathon next year? You'll need to run a qualifying race first within a certain time based on your age and gender:

Men: Boston Marathon qualifying times

  • Age 18-34: 3hrs 00min 00sec
  • Age 35-39: 3hrs 05min 00sec
  • Age 40-44: 3hrs 10min 00sec
  • Age 45-49: 3hrs 20min 00sec
  • Age 50-54: 3hrs 25min 00sec
  • Age 55-59: 3hrs 35min 00sec
  • Age 60-64: 3hrs 50min 00sec
  • Age 65-69: 4hrs 05min 00sec
  • Age 70-74: 4hrs 20min 00sec
  • Age 75-79: 4hrs 35min 00sec
  • Age 80 and over: 4hrs 50min 00sec

Women: Boston Marathon qualifying times

  • Age 18-34: 3hrs 30min 00sec
  • Age 35-39: 3hrs 35min 00sec
  • Age 40-44: 3hrs 40min 00sec
  • Age 45-49: 3hrs 50min 00sec
  • Age 50-54: 3hrs 55min 00sec
  • Age 55-59: 4hrs 05min 00sec
  • Age 60-64: 4hrs 20min 00sec
  • Age 65-69: 4hrs 35min 00sec
  • Age 70-74: 4hrs 50min 00sec
  • Age 75-79: 5hrs 05min 00sec
  • Age 80 and over: 5hrs 20min 00sec

19. 'Everybody' will be there

Well not everybody. But the 25,000+ people who run the Boston Marathon are from all over the world (all 50 states and 122 countries)

20. Start small + keep growing

The first Boston Marathon held in 1897 only had 18 participants.

In 2014, 35,671 runners participated in the Boston Marathon, the most in all 126 years.

21. Boston Marathon movies

22. Most finishes

The late Boston Marathon legend John A. Kelly finished the 26.2-mile race 58 times beginning in 1928. He won the race twice in 1935 and again in 1945.

23. Unicorn magic

The unicorn on Boston Marathon medals, T-shirts, and other items is the logo of the Boston Athletic Association.

24. Show off the shoes

More than 60 companies participated in the 2022 Boston Marathon Expo, including running shoe brands:

25. The race must go on

Even though the Boston Marathon was cancelled in April 2020 because of COVID-19, it still didn't stop the race from happening. 

  • The 124th Boston Marathon was rescheduled to Sept. 14, 2020, as a virtual race.
  • In 1918 during World War I, the Boston Marathon was adjusted to a relay event. 

26. Google it

How popular is the Boston Marathon?

Here's a little Google insight. "Boston Marathon" gets searched an average of:

  • 4.6 million times a year
  • 385,000 times a month
  • 12,833 times a day
  • 534 times an hour

26.2 The WeeViews connection

WeeViews ambassador, ultrarunner, and founder of Inside Out Athlete Lucie Hanes was at the Boston Marathon to cheer on every runner chasing the 26.2-mile finish line.

Congrats to all the 2022 Boston Marathon runners!

To all the runners who stepped up to the starting line of the Boston Marathon, congrats for going the distance.

If you were cheering on a Boston Marathon runner at the race or virtually, you no doubt helped your runner make it to the finish line.

The next Boston Marathon...April 17, 2023.

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Evan Jensen 454
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SANDY, Oregon

I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM-certified personal trainer, and hold the record for the most finishes at the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra in Oregon.

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