The Boston Marathon - It all Started in Ashland MA
Most people in Massachusetts know that the Boston Marathon's starting line is in Hopkinton MA. But, did you know that the original start was actually in Ashland MA?
The Boston Marathon is the oldest and most famous race in the country and, perhaps, the world. It was started by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) founders after they had witnessed a unique race which took place at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
These originators designed the 25-mile course to be a hilly route that would culminate in a stadium setting. The closest thing they had to something like that in Boston at the time was the 220-yard Irvington Street Oval.
Much has changed since the first Boston Marathon was run in the spring of 1897. On that day, April 19, the brand new Boston Athletic Association set the new race in motion. At exactly 12:19 p.m. no more than 18 runners darted out from the starting line.
That starting line was not in Hopkinton. It was in front of Metcalf's Mill in Ashland MA on Pleasant Street across from the Ashland Fish and Game Club.
On that day, there was no gun to start the race. The official starter simply shouted, "Go!" And, the all-male group darted from the starting line to embark on a long and winding dirt road that eventually led into Boston.
In the early years of the race, both the starting and finish lines fluctuated. In the third year the finish line was moved to the site of the Boston Public Library and the starting line, still in Ashland, was pushed back from Pleasant Street onto High Street. The Boston and Albany railroad bridge which was 22 feet wide was ample for the 17 runners who took part in the race that year.
By 1907, with 124 runners, the bridge was insufficient, so the starting point was moved onto Union Street in Ashland.
Finally, in 1924 the decision was made to lengthen the race course to 26 miles. It was at that point that the official start of the Boston Marathon was moved into Hopkinton.
Copyright 2010 "The Boston Maraton - It all Started in Ashland MA"
Claudette Millette, Broker, Owner, The Buyers' Counsel - a Buyer Broker Since 1992
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