1897 – 1909: The United States vs. Canada
When Canada’s Ronald J. MacDonald captured the second Boston Marathon in 1898, besting by almost thirteen minutes the time of New York’s John J. McDermott the year before, he signaled very quickly Boston would not be solely a United States affair. Through the early 1930s, runners from the two North American nations accounted for all Boston victories
1910 – 1930: The Era of “Mr. DeMarathon”
Clarence DeMar survived a Dickensian childhood and bad medical advice to win the Boston Marathon seven times, despite taking two long breaks from running while he was in his twenties.
1931 – 1946: Kelley the Elder
Between the ages of 26 and 38, John A. Kelley made a consistent mark among the leaders as he compiled a record of two wins and seven second place finishes.
1947 – 1972: Boston Goes Global
In the quarter century following World War II, 12 foreign countries produced Boston Marathon winners, with runners from Japan and Finland leading the way with six victories apiece.
1973 – 1985: The Golden Age of American Road Racing
Led by Bill Rodgers with four wins, five different American men over an eleven year stretch placed first in the Boston Marathon.
1986 to the Present: John Hancock and the East Africans
With the backing of Boston-based John Hancock Financial Services as its major sponsor, the Boston Marathon in 1986 was able to award prize money for the first time. This major change enabled the race to once again attract the top marathoners in the world. Beginning in 1988 with a victory by Kenya’s Ibrahim Hussein, runners born in East Africa established a record of dominance that continues until today, taking 26 out of 28 races.