The Boston Athletic Association forms on March 15 in order to "encourage all manly sports and promote physical culture." The B.A.A. Clubhouse (pictured) on the corner of Exeter and Blagdon Streets would soon become headquarters for the Boston Marathon.
Originally called the American Marathon, the inaugural Boston Marathon is run on Patriot's Day (April 19). New York's John J. McDermott emerged as the race's first winner, clocking a time of 2:55:10 on the 24.5 mile course that started in Ashland and ended in Boston.
Ronald J. MacDonald of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, becomes the first non-American to win the marathon. MacDonald was a Boston College student at the time of his victory.
Peter Trivoulides of Greece becomes the first European athlete to win the marathon. Only one other athlete from outside the United States and Canada, Paul de Bruyn of Germany, would win the race before the end of World War II.
The Boston Marathon is extended to 26 miles and 385 meters to conform to the Olympic standard, which was established at the 1908 London Games. The race's starting line moved west from its original location in Ashland to Hopkinton, where it remains today.
Korea's Suh Yun-bok becomes the first Asian athlete to win the marathon, setting a world record of 2:25:39. He remains the only man to break the world record on Boston's notoriously difficult course.
Four years later, in the midst of the Korean War, B.A.A. president Walter A. Brown banned Korean athletes from running in the marathon, saying "While American soldiers are fighting and dying in Korea, every Korean should be fighting to protect his country instead of training for marathons."
Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb becomes the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, completing the course in 3:21:40. Gibb was forced to sneak into the field of runners shortly after the race began, as women were not allowed to officially enter until 1972.
Kathrine Switzer becomes the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon with an official race number, having used only her initials when registering. During the race, B.A.A. official Jock Semple attempted to pull Switzer from the course, reportedly yelling "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!" Switzer went on to finish the race after her boyfriend pushed Semple aside.
For the first time, women are allowed to officially enter the marathon. Eight women, known as the Class of 1972, competed, and Nina Kuscsik emerged victorious in a time of 3:10:26.
Jim Knaub sets a new world record in the men's wheelchair division, which first took place in 1975. Knaub would go on to win three more times at Boston.
Joan Benoit (left) wins her second Boston Marathon, setting a world record of 2:22:43. The next year, Benoit won the marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, making her the first athlete to be both Boston and Olympic champion.
John Hancock Financial Services becomes the marathon's primary sponsor, allowing the race to award prize money for the first time. Australia's Robert de Castelia received $60,000 and a Mercedes Benz for winning the men's race, while Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen (left) received only $39,000 after winning the women's race.
Ibrahim Hussein of Kenya becomes the first African runner to win the marathon. Hussein would take Boston again in 1991 and 1992, ushering in a ten-year stretch of Kenyan runners winning the men's race.
38,708 runners enter the 100th Boston Marathon, which remains the largest field in race history. The 1995 and 1997 races drew only 9,416 and 10,471 runners, respectively.
A terrorist attack takes place at the marathon, with two bombs detonating near the finish line. Four people died in the attack.
Meb Keflezighi becomes the first American man to win the marathon since Greg Meyer won 31 years earlier.
Desiree Linden battles through rain, sleet, and snow to become the first American woman to win Boston since 1985, when fellow Michigander Lisa Larsen Weidenbach took the title.
Since Bobbi Gibb's historic run in 1966, women have become a powerful presence at the Boston Marathon. In 2019, over 45% of athletes in the Boston field were women, and the gap between men's and women's winning times has continued to shrink. Check out the data visualizations below to see how Boston's gender distribution has changed since the race officially opened to women in 1972.
After World War II ended in 1945, the Boston Marathon became increasingly cosmopolitan, with winners from abroad soon overtaking Americans as race champions. After the marathon began offering prize money in 1986, the incentive for elite international runners to compete in Boston grew. See how the nationality of winners changed throughout the marathon's history in the visualizations below.