A look at the Boston Marathon’s rich history

**FILE**Johnny Kelley crosses the finish line of his 60th Boston Marathon in this April 16, 1991 file photo. Kelley, a former three time Olympian, died Wednesday Oct. 6, 2004, aged 97. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON (WWLP) – History was made at Monday’s Boston Marathon, with American Meb Keflezighi becoming the first man from the United States to win the race in 31 years, and the race has had a rich history.

Much has changed in 119 years; the race wasn’t always filled with thousands of runners, it didn’t always include women, and it wasn’t always run on a Monday.

In 1897, the first marathon was run from Ashland to Boston with just 18 runners; covering a distance of 24 and a half miles. The start of the race didn’t move to Hopkinton until 1924.

The world’s oldest marathon is always held on Patriot’s Day, and until 1969, that was every April 19; whichever day of the week that fell on. Starting in 1969, the holiday was observed on the third Monday in April, and that’s how we came to know it as “Marathon Monday.”

It has only been in the last 25 years that the popularity of the marathon has grown to the epic proportions we see today.

In 1962, only 113 runners finished the race. In 1982, just over 5,000 made it to the finish line.

Women were not allowed to enter the Marathon officially until 1972.

Now 46 percent of all the runners are women, and more than 21,000 men and women completed the race in 2012.

From Johnny Kelley who won the race twice, and completed the course a record 58 times, to four time winner Bill Rodgers to Rick and Dick Hoyt and to the 36,000 competitors who toed the line in Hopkinton this year the Boston Marathon has a rich history of triumph, endurance, and accomplishment.

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