With the 2013 Boston Marathon a mere four days away, we’re all in countdown mode. April 15 symbolizes a day of strength and inspiration, as throngs of screaming spectators line the 26.2-mile route, waving signs of “Good luck” all while trying to smooch a sweat-soaked sprinter. (More on that later.) If you plan on heading down to the Boston Marathon route on Monday, however, don’t go unprepared–come equipped with water, carbs and smarts. Here are 13 fun Boston Marathon facts to help you impress the strangers shrieking next to you.
– Approximately 500,000 people line the route on Marathon Monday. That number represents 80 percent of Boston’s population, making the Boston Marathon New England’s most widely-viewed sporting event.
– A majority of the Marathon isn’t even held in Boston, however. Runners need to sweat their way through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline before even breaking in to Boston proper. At that point, they’ve already hit 24th mile mark.
– That could be why the Boston Marathon used to be referred to as the “American Marathon,” according to Mental Floss. The publication is also quick to point out the 1887-born event is only nicknamed the “Boston Marathon.” Its full title is actually the “Boston Athletic Association Marathon.”
– Another nickname you might have heard, however, is “Heartbreak Hill”—the point in the race around the 20-mile mark when athletes are likely contemplating why they were delusional enough to commit to running the Marathon in the first place. It’s one of the last hills, and is the site where defending champion John “Johnny” Kelley overtook Ellison Brown in 1936 and gave him a pat on the shoulder when he did. The gesture fueled Brown, who ended up “breaking Kelley’s heart” by beating him.
– The town of Newton saved Kelley’s spirit, however, erecting a statue of him in 1993 near City Hall. Although he did not finish his first race in 1928, Kelley did go on to compete in a record 61 Boston Marathons.
– Kelley outpaced hundreds of women, largely because they were excluded from the race until 1972. Kathrine Switzer made history for becoming the first female Boston Marathon runner in 1967, yet she was nearly stopped by a race official. Switzer, who famously entered as “K.V. Switzer,” dodged his hands and crossed the finish line in four hours and 20 minutes.
– No one under the age of 18 would be lucky enough to rush by officials, though. Runners must be 18 to enter, although there are no upper age limits. Last year, 81-year-old Madonna Buder finished in 5:38, according to ESPN.
– Buder likely received the loudest cheers from Wellesley College students. The ladies of Wellesley annually go out to the 13th mile’s “Scream Tunnel” to cheer on the runners and see if they can snag a sweaty smooch. Why hold a sign that says, “Good luck,” when you could be holding, “Kiss me, I’m in a long distance relationship” instead?
– Red Sox fans also join in on the cheering. Fenway Park hosts a Patriots Day home game every year, giving baseball lovers the chance to root for runners in Kenmore Square.
– One big fact to cheer about is that the Boston Marathon was the first to include a wheelchair division competition when it officially recognized Bob Hall in 1975.
– And who wouldn’t scream after snagging the $150,000 a Boston Marathon winner receives? If they break a course record, they’re awarded an additional $25,000.
– That’s a total Poland Spring likely wouldn’t mind seeing. Last year, the company provided more than 80,6000 gallons of water to the Marathon, as well as 500 cases of cups.
– This year, the Marathon will be recognizing the lives lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut through the 26 mile-marker, which will be unveiled today by Laura Nowacki, spokeswoman for the Newtown Strong Fund.