Today, 30,000 runners embarked on the 26.2 mile race from Hopkinton to Boylston Street, and we wish them the best of luck on this rainy Patriots' Day!
[The marathon] began as an ambitious vision by the Boston Athletic Association founders, after witnessing the first-of-its-kind race at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
The BAA officials designed the current course to match the original in Greece: a 25-mile hilly route culminating at a stadium, or the closest thing to a stadium that Boston had at the time, the 220-yard Irvington Street Oval.
At exactly 12:19 p.m., 18 men leaped from the starting line in front of Metcalf's Mill in Ashland (since 1924, the race has begun at Hopkinton Green). The starting official had no gun; he simply shouted "Go!" to start the BAA marathon.
In the early years, runners endured the narrow and dusty dirt roads winding their way to Boston. Today, of course, the roads are wide and paved.
As it turns out the oldest and most-revered marathon in the country shares its year of inception with the oldest and most-revered clockmaker in the country -- Chelsea Clock! Here are a few facts from the history of the marathon as originally appeared on Boston.com: