Massachusetts’s residents are tough cookies. From the weather and decades of heartbreaking sports teams, to Cape Cod traffic and actors trying to imitate our accents, our hides grew thick.
Two years ago, the idea of Boston Strong took on new meaning. Two words that expressed our shared grief and pride, in our people, first responders, capital city, and marathon.
This year, a new field of runners will take off from Hopkinton on April 20th, chasing a dream, raising money for charity, or remembering a friend. Every one of them Boston Strong
Red Sox great Big Papi spoke for us all when he said, “This is our &#*! City!”
Yes, and this is our race.
Here are ten reasons why we think the Boston Marathon is the greatest sporting event in the world.
- Age: Boston is the oldest, annually contested marathon in the world. Started in 1887, the race is 118 years old – wow, she looks good.
- Prestige: Let’s face it; every runner wants to participate in the Boston Marathon. Qualifying times are tough in all age groups, so for many it’s the elusive dream, their own white whale. The race is fast with a median finish time of 3:44; runners in Boston earned the right to be there. Unless, of course, you run for….
- Charity: Baystaters may be tough, but underneath that Red Sox t-shirt is a heart of gold. Each year, 5,000 runners raise money (more than $13 million in 2014) for one of 30 charities and receive a race number for their efforts.
- Heartbreak Hill: Runners may claim victory when they cross the finish line on Boylston Street, but Heartbreak Hill is where you earn it. Actually a series of four hills that start at mile 17 and end with the toughest hill between miles 20-21 in Newton. Many marathon dreams have ended there, including the 1939 race for…
- Johnny Kelly: A Massachusetts native and running legend, Mr. Kelly finished 58 Boston Marathons (winning 1935 and 1945) including his last race in 1992 at the age of 84. Heartbreak Hill is named for his heartbreaking 1939 loss, and a statue bearing his likeness stands at the base of that fourth hill.
- World Records: Boston holds the record for the world’s largest marathon. During it’s centennial race 38,748 people started the race – 36,748 finished.
- Volunteers: Last year, 10,000 people volunteered to help at the Marathon. So many people wanted to volunteer the organizers had to turn away 5,000 applicants. That’s a beautiful thing.
- Team Hoyt: Since 1977, Dick and Rick Hoyt have completed more than 1,000 races together. While not exclusive to the Boston Marathon, these Massachusetts natives love this race. Rick said, “if it comes down to doing one race a year he would like it to be the Boston Marathon: his favorite race.” The father and son team completed their last Boston Marathon in 2014. According to their website, Rick will be back in 2015 with Bryan Lyon taking over the pushing duties. The Hoyt Foundation raises money “to improve the quality of life for the those living with disabilities.” Check out their inspirational story here.
- People who share: You’ll see them all along the race handing out cookies, Vaseline (a new jar we hope), jelly beans, and access to an indoor bathroom. All this sharing makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
- Spectators: According to the Boston Athletic Association, one million people line the race route. That burst of energy you feel is the collective love and support from all those Boston Marathon fans. At some sections of the race the roar of the crowd is thunderous (i.e. the Wellesley College “scream tunnel”) Write your name on your shirt and it’s like everyone came out just for you.
- BONUS REASON Hopkinton, MA: No one ever thanks Hopkinton, that little town 26.2 miles from Boston and starting point for the marathon. So thank you Hopkinton for briefly hosting 25,000 + runners and then cleaning up 2 tons of trash, collecting thousands of articles of discarded clothing for charity, and taking care of hundreds of port-o-potties. We really couldn’t do it without you.
Good luck runners!
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
– From the movie, A League of their Own