The race is organized by the Boston Athletic Association
, and the principal sponsor is John Hancock Financial Services.
Runners are categorized by gender, then by age. The age categories are: Men's and Women's Open (age 18-39), Masters (40-49), Veterans (50-59), Seniors (60-69) and 70 & Over. Qualifying times depend on the age of the participant on the day of the race.
Participants must be 18 years of age on the day of the race and must meet certain time standards to qualify for their age group.
Visually impaired runners are allowed to participate, but the must have a five hour qualifying time. There are also categories for wheelchairs and handcycles.
Runners come from all over the world to participate.
Best Men's Open time - 2:03:02 - Geoffrey Mutai, Kenya - (2011)
Best Women's Open time - 2:19:59 - Buzunesh Deba, Ethiopia - (2014)
Best Men's Wheelchair time - Joshua Cassidy, Canada, 1:18:25 (2012)
Best Women's Wheelchair time - Wakako Tsuchida, Japan - 1:34:06 (2011)
April 19, 1897 - The first marathon is run and is 24.8 miles. The winner is John J. McDermott of New York, with a time of 2:55:10. There are 18 entrants, 15 starters, and 10 finishers.
1897-1968 - The race is run on April 19, Patriots' Day, a holiday commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War only recognized in Massachusetts and Maine. In those years that April 19 falls on a Sunday, the race is held the next day, Monday the 20th.
A military relay is held instead of the marathon due to the United States' involvement in World War I.
April 19, 1924 - The race is lengthened to 26.2 miles to conform to Olympic standards.
April 17, 1967 - Kathrine Switzer becomes the first woman to receive a number to run in the Boston Marathon
. She enters the race under the name K.V. Switzer and wears baggy clothes to disguise herself. Females are not officially allowed to enter until 1972.
1969 - Patriots' Day is changed to the third Monday in April, so the date of the race is also changed..
1975 - A wheelchair division is added to the marathon. Bob Hall finishes the race in two hours and 58 minutes in a wheelchair.
April 15, 1996 - The 100th Boston Marathon is run. There are a record 35,868 finishers.
April 15, 2013 -
Two bombs explode near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring at least 264 others.
April 8, 2015 - Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is convicted on all 30 charges
against him, and is found responsible for the deaths of Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu and Sean Collier.
October 26, 2016 - Three-time winner Rita Jeptoo, of Kenya, loses her 2014 title and record for the fastest women's finish ever (2:18:57), as part of a ruling on her two-year ban for doping.