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5 Facts About the Boston Marathon

  1. The race wasn’t always held on a Monday. Until 1969, the Boston Marathon took place on Patriot’s Day–then April 19th–regardless of the day of the week (unless if it fell on Good Friday or a Sunday). The Massachusetts government then made an effort to make holidays more standardized for workers, so they moved the holiday to a Monday to make for a more efficient three-day weekend, thus creating Marathon Monday. 
  2. Heartbreak Hill, the infamous incline between miles 20 and 21, was nicknamed by a Boston Globe reporter after the 1936 race. Marathoner John Kelley patted rival Tarzan Brown on the back as he passed him. The act lit an angry fire in Brown that fueled him to a first-place finish. Reported Jerry Nason wrote that Brown “broke kelley’s heart” at the hill. 
  3. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first registered woman to run the Boston Marathon. At the time, women weren’t allowed to run in the historic race, so she registered under “K. V. Switzer.” After successfully blending in with the male runners in her grey sweatsuit for the first few miles, race organizer Jock Semple caught her and tried to pull her off the course. Switzer’s boyfriend body-checked Semple, and she kept running. She returned to the course 50 years later as a 70-year-old woman to run the 2017 Boston Marathon, and after her race the Boston Athletic Association retired her bib number (261) in her honor. 
  4. The tragedy of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and left hundreds injured allowed Bostonians and Americans alike to rally and come back stronger. Approximately one million spectators–double the average audience–showed up to cheer on Meb Keflezighi in the 2014 race as he became the first American to win Boston in 30 years, and at 38, the oldest winner since 1930. To honor those who had lost their lives the previous year, he wrote their names on his race bib. 
  5. Rosie Ruiz is arguably the most famous Boston Marathon cheater. In 1980, she crossed the finish line in close to record time (just over two and a half hours). However, with an unflushed face and having hardly broken a sweat, spectators were immediately skeptical of the 26-year-old New Yorker. Even more interestingly, no one–neither spectators nor athletes–recalled seeing her during the first 25 miles. Eight days later, her medal was revoked after witnesses came forward to say they had seen Ruiz jump into the race from the sidelines just a mile from the finish. This wasn’t her first time cheating, either–during the only other marathon she had run (New York), she took the subway to cut out mileage. 

Sources:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/27483/11-fast-facts-about-boston-marathon

http://time.com/3822577/rosie-ruiz-history/

https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-marathon/2017/04/15/the-boston-marathon-wasnt-always-held-on-a-monday

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