The Boston Marathon Quiz



By: Staff

5 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Of the handful of ultra-prestigious marathons around the world, the Boston Marathon definitely lands at the top of the list. Every competitive runner longs to be awarded a medal emblazoned with a unicorn, the event’s official symbol, but many are turned away each year if they lack the incredible run times necessary to land a coveted number. Indeed, you can’t just run any old 5K and expect to get into the Boston Marathon. Entrants have to submit results certified by one of the big governing bodies for the sport, with many qualifying thanks to times achieved at marathons in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia, as well as the previous year’s Boston event. Other marathons also count, as long as the race meets the 26.2 mile criteria.

The Boston Marathon was inspired right into existence by the first modern Olympic Games, held in 1896. The term “marathon” was used to honor the roughly 25-mile run of a soldier all the way from a battlefield to the town of Marathon, Greece. Legend has it that Pheidippides hauled all that way to let the Athenians know that the Persians had been defeated, but then collapsed and died. Sadly, the modern Boston Marathon was rocked by tragedy in 2013 when a pair of brothers planted bombs near the finish line, killing three and injuring hundreds more. The Marathon refused to fall victim to the terrorist attack, however, and has continued every year since with as much or more spirit and pride than ever before.

If you want to gorge on Boston’s legendary lobster and clam chowder, first you have to earn it. How much do you know about the prestigious Boston Marathon? Take this quiz and prove if you have what it takes to go the distance!

What year was the Boston Marathon first held?

It's the oldest annual marathon in the world.


In 1897, what was the winner's finishing time?

Even in the marathon's earliest days, it had a reputation for drawing the speediest runners.


What was the distance of the first Boston Marathon?

It wasn’t quite the full marathon distance of 26.2 miles.


In what year was the race lengthened to the Olympic standard of 26.2 miles?

The race is now held on the third Monday of April and is essentially a holiday in Boston.


What year did a woman first run the Boston Marathon?

In that era, women were often considered incapable of enduring the 26.2 miles of a marathon.


On average, how many people participate in the marathon each year?

In 1996, the race set a world record for number of participants. The record lasted for seven years.


In what year did the race's winner first break the two hours, 30 minutes mark?

John "Jack" Caffery won the previous year, too, but he was 10 minutes slower.


What happened to Kathrine Switzer, who ran the race in 1967 in spite of the official ban on women participants?

His name was Jock Semple, and he had a reputation for attacking runners who weren't serious enough for his tastes.


How did Jock Semple ultimately respond to women who wanted to run the race?

He not only reversed his position but became an advocate for female runners.


True or false: The Boston Marathon is New England's biggest spectator athletic event.

More than half a million people line the route to watch each year, creating a festival-like atmosphere.


What nationality was the man who first broke the two hours, 15 minutes mark at the marathon?

Antti Viskari ran the race in 2:14 in 1956.


In what year did an African first win the event?

Since then, African runners have dominated Boston and set running records all over the world.


Since 1991, how many non-Africans have won the Boston Marathon?

Robert Cheruiyot alone won four times for the Kenyans; in recent years the Ethiopians have dominated.


What is the course record?

Set in 2011 by Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai, it was a world record until 2014.


What was Mutai's per-mile pace at the 2011 Boston Marathon?

Only a tiny percentage of the human population has the genetics and determination to run at this speed for 26.2 miles.


American Meb Keflezighi won the race in 2014. He was the first American to win the race since what year?

Keflezighi ended a long drought and brought catharsis following the previous year's bomb attack at the finish line.


What's the median finishing time for the marathon?

The Boston Marathon is considered one of the fastest fields in the world.


How many Finnish men have won the race?

The most recent was in in 1972; no Finnish woman has ever won.


What's the nickname for the segment of the course that passes by Wellesley College?

Women from the college scream their support and also frequently kiss passing runners.


How many feet does Heartbreak Hill rise?

It's not much, really, but coming at mile 20 makes it difficult for runners who are trying to run as fast as possible.


How many runners have died as they attempted to run the Boston Marathon?

It's a low number considering the scads of people who've run the race. The most recent death was in 2002.


How many Russians have won the race?

They were all women; their last victory came in 2003.


What's the minimum age for participants?

On race day, you have to be at least 18 years old.


What other Boston sporting event always takes place on marathon day?

Following the game, baseball fans join the crowds to cheer (and contribute to the clogged traffic).


What's the record time set by a wheelchair participant?

Joshua Cassidy set this one in 2012.


Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to finish the race. How long did it take her to cross the finish line?

She handily beat most men who were running the event.


How do race organizers respond to "bandits," unofficial runners who jump into the race without registering?

Banditry is a tradition of sorts and race officials publicly (but gently) scold these runners.


How many times did John A. Kelley finish the Boston Marathon?

He actually started 61 times but "only" finished the race 58 times.


How many times did John A. Kelley finish second at the marathon?

He set the record for second-place finishes and finished in the top five 15 times.


As of 2019, what's the qualifying time for men who want to run the race (age 18-34)?

For women in that same age group, the time is 3:35. Boston is one of the only races that requires runners to qualify, and competition is fierce.


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