The Boston Marathon - It all Started in Ashland MA

Real Estate Agent with The Buyers' Counsel

The Boston Marathon - It all Started in Ashland MAThe 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 evenThe Boston Marathon - It all Started in Ashland MAtually 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. 

But, let it never be forgotten by Ashland residents, Hopkinton townspeople or anyone else in the state - the Boston Marathon actually started in Ashland



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Claudette Millette, Broker, Owner, The Buyers' Counsel - a Buyer Broker Since 1992

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Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional


Well that's something that I never knew. Thanks for the history lesson about the Boston Marathon!

Feb 25, 2010 12:55 PM #1
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


The sign in the photo is actually posted close to the site of the original starting point of the Boston Marathon on Pleasant Street in Ashland. 


Feb 25, 2010 01:14 PM #2
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Claudette, Thanks for the history lesson. Did Bill Rodgers run in the first one? I ran a lot at one time and he was my hero.

Feb 25, 2010 01:20 PM #3
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


Bill Rogers is a pretty great hero to have if you are a runner. He won the Boston Marathon four times.  Those races were between 1975 and 1980. 

Feb 25, 2010 01:26 PM #4
David Henke
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Newtown Square, PA
Realtor, Homes Just West of Philadelphia PA

Cool information.  It's always great to dig a bit for the local history notes to really understand an area.

Feb 25, 2010 02:16 PM #5
Jim Hale
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

So now I guess the shot heard round the world is fired in Hopkinton.


Never heard of it.  Only Ashland.

Feb 25, 2010 05:00 PM #6
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


Thanks.  I always find this type of information to be interesting.


Something like that.  But the shot was originally fired in Ashland. 

Feb 25, 2010 11:01 PM #7
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi Claudette ~ This post is loaded with fun info that I didn't know about the Boston Marathon. And I love the statue and the sign! Very cool.

Other people may be talking about spring but Marathon Monday is the real start of spring around here I think.


Feb 28, 2010 01:42 PM #8
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


I am glad you like it. I agree, in Massachusetts the Boston Marathon is a true symbol that spring has arrived.


Feb 28, 2010 02:17 PM #9
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