What You Should Know About The Boston Marathon, One Of The Biggest Races In The World

  • Eric Goldschein

As you might already know, unspeakable tragedy struck the city of Boston this afternoon during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Two explosions were detonated near the finish line after only about half of the runners had completed the race. At this point, reports say that over 100 people are being treated in Boston-area hospitals, and fatal casualties have been confirmed.

Here are some important facts about the Boston Marathon, which is perhaps the best-known race in America, and one of the biggest the world has ever known.

Established: 1897 — making it the world’s oldest (modern) marathon.

When is it?: The Boston Marathon takes place on Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts state holiday, and is referred to by locals as “Marathon Monday.”

Average number of registered participants: 20,000.

Average number of spectators: 500,000.

Home of the fastest (unofficial) marathon time: In 2011, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the Boston Marathon in 2:03:02, which should be the world record for the fastest marathon ever. But because Boston’s route descends 492 feet, it does not conform to official marathon standards — a ruling that many consider “flawed.”

Route: Here’s a map of the route (via baa.org — larger versions on their site):

And a map of the route near the finish line, where one today’s bombings took place:

The biggest ever?: Yes, indeed. Via Wikipedia: “The Centennial Boston Marathon in 1996 established a record as the world’s largest marathon with 38,708 entrants, 36,748 starters, and 35,868 finishers.”

Previous deaths: Before today, the only casualties suffered at the event were a 62-year-old Swedish man (heart attack, 1996) and a 28-year-old American woman (hyponatremia, 2002).

Led photo via