Defending champions Desiree Linden, left, of Washington, Mich., and Yuki Kawauchi, of Japan, display their assigned bib numbers in advance of the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday.
This year’s Boston Marathon, which will be held Monday, will be the 123rd running of the race that winds its way 26.2 miles from the town of Hopkinton to the finish line at Copley Square in downtown Boston.
It is the world’s oldest annual marathon, having started in 1897 after the successful debut of the marathon at the first modern Olympics in 1896.
Race date: The Boston Marathon is traditionally held on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April. The Boston Red Sox also have a traditional home game on Patriots Day with an early 11:05 a.m. first pitch. This year, the Red Sox play host to the Baltimore Orioles.
Signature feature: The most famous part of the course comes in between the 20th and 21st mile — Heartbreak Hill. It is an uphill portion of less than a half mile as the runners pass near the campus of Boston College, but it’s considered a crucial part of the race because it’s where participants’ energy often is depleted as they “hit the wall.”
There, in 1936, defending champion Johnny Kelley caught race leader Tarzan Brown and gave him a pat on the shoulder as he passed. However, Brown rallied to win and according to the Boston Globe’s account of the race, “broke Kelley’s heart” — hence the name Heartbreak Hill.
Course records: The men’s record is held by Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, who won the 2011 marathon in 2:03:02. The women’s record, set in 2014, is by Bezunesh Deba of Ethiopia in 2:19:59.
Defending champions: In what organizers said were the coldest race conditions in 30 years — a chilly 39 degrees at the start — runners bundled in layers, gloves, hats and jackets to counter the rain and wind at last year’s marathon.
Desi Linden became the first American woman to win since 1985 when she crossed the finish line in 2:39:54. The two-time U.S. Olympian finally broke through in Boston after finishing fourth in 2017 and second in 2011.
In the men’s race, Yuki Kawauchi of Japan won his first Boston Marathon in 2:15:58. The last Japanese man to win was Toshihiko Seko in 1987.
World marathon majors: Boston is among the six largest marathons, along with Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. A special prize purse is given to runners who accumulate the most points in the majors.
World Wars: Just five national sporting events were held during the two World Wars, and the Boston Marathon was one. The others? The Kentucky Derby, Penn Relays, Rose Parade and Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Tragedy: 2019 marks the six-year anniversary of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, when two explosions took place only a few seconds apart at the finish line.
A review of video from the scene focused a tense search for two brothers from Chechnya Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in an encounter with police three days after the bombing. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev finally was captured and sentenced to death by execution after a jury found him responsible for killing three people, seriously maiming 17 and injuring hundreds more.
USA Today, Sports