The Boston Marathon, a Historic and Athletic Tradition 

Runners come from all over the world for the challenge of running in the Boston Marathon.

Have you ever run in a race or a fun run in your community? Can you imagine running 26.2 miles? Runners from around the world go to Boston, Massachusetts, to do just that. Every year on the third Monday in April, people run in the Boston Marathon. It is one of the best-known racing events in the world. This year’s marathon is on April 17.  

The Boston Marathon started in 1897. It is the world’s oldest annual, or yearly, marathon. It always takes place on Patriots’ Day. Patriots’ Day celebrates the Battle of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. This was the first battle of the American Revolution. The race honors those who marched to victory in the battle. 

The marathon was inspired by the legend of an ancient Greek messenger. The messenger ran about 25 miles between the Greek cities of Marathon and Athens. He was carrying news of a battle victory. The 1896 Olympic Games in Athens held a 25-mile marathon to honor his journey. Over time, the length of the marathon changed. The distance of 26.2 miles was set at the 1908 Olympics in London.  

There were only 18 runners at the first Boston Marathon. Now about 20,000 people run each year. Some of the fastest runners are called elite runners. They come from all over the world to break records and win prizes. Recreational runners run as a hobby. They participate to challenge themselves, keep in shape, or raise money for a charity.  

The Boston Marathon has become more inclusive over time. Starting in 1972, women were officially allowed to participate. Three years later, it became the first major marathon to allow wheelchair racers. The Boston Marathon has made a commitment to racial justice. Elite runners from African countries have always been welcomed. But most of the recreational runners in the marathon have been White. The marathon now has a goal of encouraging more Black runners to participate.  

What Do You Think? Why do you think people come from all over the world to run in the Boston Marathon?

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