6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Boston Marathon

Celebrate the 119th running of the Boston Marathon by learning about its incredible history

Held each year on the third Monday of April, the Boston Marathon is easily one of the most famous and prestigious running races in the entire world.

Plus, since the tragic events that took place at the race in 2013, each year runners grow more determined to make sure that the Boston Marathon continues on as one of the world’s most respected and celebrated sporting events.

"For me, running the Boston Marathon was the culmination of many years of intense physical training in the gym, on the road and on the trails," says Sandra Laflamme, a marathoner who blogs about her running adventures at organicrunnermom.com. "Being able to run the Boston Marathon meant that I had achieved one of my biggest running goals. Just being at the starting line feels like pure success."

To celebrate its 119th running this year, we compiled a short list of interesting facts about this truly iconic race.

1. World’s Oldest: According to the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.), the Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annually contested marathon. It was inspired by the 1896 Olympic Games and was first held in 1897.

“Knowing it's the oldest marathon makes you appreciate the history,” says Bryanna Gondeiro-Petrie, an avid runner who participated in the race in 2013. “It’s amazing crossing the finish line, you feel accomplished. It’s hard to describe the crowd and the other runners are what make the race.”

2. Wheelchair Division: Upon officially recognizing Bob Hall in 1975, the Boston Marathon was the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division.

3. New England Fan Favorite: The B.A.A. says that according to estimates by police and public safety officials, the iconic race draws about one million spectators each year, making it the most widely viewed sporting event in New England.

4. Pre-race Physicals: According to The Boston Globe, race organizers required that all runners endure a physical exam on the morning of the race up until 1960.

5. No Girls Allowed: Women weren’t welcomed to officially run the Boston Marathon until 1972, however many women (like Katherine Switzer) disregarded the rule and ran the course anyway. According to The Boston Globe, Roberta Gibb was the first woman to unofficially win the race in 1966.

6. Prize Money: A first place prize wasn’t awarded until 1986. The Boston Globe says the winner that year received  $60,000 and a Mercedes Benz. The prize purse for 2015 is $806,000, according to the B.A.A.