John J. McDermott, representing the Pastime Athletic Club from New York City, captured the first running of the Boston Marathon then known as the BAA Road Race.
Fifteen runners started the first race with ten finishing the 24 1/2 mile trek from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts, to the finish line at the Oval on Irvington Street, in downtown Boston.
McDermott, who had won the only other marathon on United States soil the previous October in New York, took over the lead from Harvard athlete Dick Grant over the hills in Newton. Although McDermott walked several times during the final miles, he still won by a comfortable six-minute 32-second margin in 2:55:10.
1. John J. McDermott — Pastime Athletic Club;
2. James J. Kiernan — Bartholomeau Athletic Club;
3. Edward P. Rhell — Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
The field grew to 25 (15 finished) in the second running of the BAA’s Road Race. Ronald McDonald, a 22-year-old student at Boston College and running his first marathon in bicycle shoes, overhauled New York cross country champion Hamilton Gray with just over two miles remaining to reach the finish line in 2:42. His time was considered a world’s best performance for the marathon at the time. Defending champion John J. McDermott finished fourth (2:54:17 2/5). Pre-race favorite Louis Liebgold of Gotham, New Jersey, wearing bib No. 1, was forced to drop out.
1. Ronald J. McDonald — Cambridgeport Gymnasium Association;
2. Hamilton Gray — St. George’s Athletic Club;
3. Robert A. McLennon — East Boston Athletic Association.
At 173 pounds, Cambridge blacksmith Lawrence Brignolia was the heaviest runner ever to win Boston. Brignolia, who seemed quite suited to tackle the strong gale-like winds that hampered runners the entire way, caught Harvard alumnus Dick Grant on the Newton hills and finished in 2:54:38.
A sudden gust of wind caused Brignolia to step on a loose stone and fall during his approach to Kenmore Square. After stopping to regain his composure, Brignolia walked and ran the remaining distance to the new finish line on Exeter Street, in front of the BAA clubhouse.
1. Lawrence Brignolia — Bradford Boat Club;
2. Dick Grant — New York;
3. Bart Sullivan — Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Canadian runners entered Boston for the first time and quickly established their dominance in the Marathon. Led by James J. Caffrey of Hamilton, Ontario, the Canadian runners finished 1-2-3 as fellow countrymen Bill Sherring and Frank Hughson followed Caffrey across the finish line. Caffrey finished in 2:39:44 after overtaking Sherring in Auburndale, 16 miles into the race.
The race was marked by the only false start in the race’s history as Canadian John Barnard “jumped the gun” and the runners had to be reassembled at the start.
1. James Caffrey — Hamilton, Ontario;
2. Bill Sherring — Canada;
3. Frank Hughson — Canada.
James J. Caffrey became the first repeat winner of the Boston Marathon, posting a record time of 2:29:23. Canadian Frank Hughson, who was third the year before, set the early pace only to be caught by Caffrey near the halfway mark in Wellesley Square.
Bill Davis, a Mohawk Indian whom Caffrey had brought with him from Canada, finished second as 1898 champion Ronald McDonald collapsed at Cleveland Circle. Rumors that McDonald had been drugged were widely circulated and the topic for much discussion. The race saw the first marathoner from outside North America to run — John Vrazanis from Greece. He was forced to drop out with severe blisters.
1. James Caffrey — Hamilton, Ontario;
2. Bill Davis — Canada;
3. Sammy Mellor — New York.
Sammy Mellor, third the previous year, romped home to a relatively easy 2:43:12 victory as two-time defending champion James Caffrey was forced to drop out just prior to the start after being stricken with dysentery.
With a record field of 49 starters (42 finished), Mellor pulled away from ’98 winner Ronald McDonald just over 12 miles into the race and won by two minutes over 13. Kenney of Massachusetts. Charlie Moody, a 16-year-old at Brighton High School, finished fourth in 3:03:47.
1. Sammy Mellor — Yonkers, New York;
2. J. J.. Kenney — Massachusetts;
3. John C. Lorden — Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Once Lorden put to rest the leg cramps that had bothered him early in the race, he began his pursuit of the two leaders. Caffrey withdrew well into the Newton hills and Lorden caught Mellor with less than three miles to go and won going away by nearly six minutes in 2:41:29.
1. John C. Lorden — Cambridge, Massachusetts;
2. Sammy Mellor — New York;
3. Mike Spring — New York.
Spring, a 21-year-old clerk from New York, had let Mellor build nearly a four-minute lead by the time he had reached 20 miles. As Mellor faded over the final three miles, five runners passed the tired ’02 champion, with Spring hitting the tape in 2:38:04.
1. Mike Spring — New York;
2. Tom Hicks — Cambridge, Massachusetts;
3. Tom Cook — South Boston.
A record field of 78 starters saw U.S. Olympian Fred Lorz run himself into nearexhaustion while winning in 2:28:25. Lorz, who had been accused of cheating the year before in the Olympic Marathon at St. Louis, caught Sammy Mellor with five miles to go after Mellor had set a record pace throughout the early portion of the race.
Defending champion Mike Spring was one of the 38 starters who did not finish.
1. Fred Lorz — New York City;
2. Louis Marks — New York;
3. Bob Fowler — Massachusetts.
Ford was a post entry, the last on the list of 86 starters. His entry into the race was first rejected because he had submitted no application at all. Within just one mile of the finish, Ford caught the 24-year-old Kneeland and edged ahead. Again, Sammy Mellor was among the leaders for 13 miles before being overtaken by Kneeland and others at Wellesley Hills.
1. Timothy Ford — Cambridge, Massachusetts;
2. Dave Kneeland — Roxbury, Massachusetts;
Tom Longboat, an Onandage Indian from Hamilton, Ontario, established a course record in his only Boston appearance, winning in 2:24:24. Longboat and Bostonian James Lee established a brisk early pace that led a contingent of nine runners past the railroad crossing in South Framingham.
Once past, a freight train blocked the path of the remaining runners in the field and they were forced to mark time until the train had passed on its way.
Longboat survived the sleet and driving rain this day as well as a brief challenge from fellow Canadian Rink Patch on the early portion of the Newton hills. American Johnny Hayes, who would go on to win the 1908 Olympic Marathon, finished third.
1. Tom Longboat — Canada;
2. Robert Fowler — Massachusetts;
3. Johnny Hayes – NewYork.
New Yorker Tom Morrissey outdueled Johnny Hayes in a great battle that left only 21 seconds between the two at the finish and saw the first five runners all finish within two minutes of each other. Morrissey finished in 2:25:43.
With a bleak sky and the accompanying snow, a record early pace was set by Arthur McDonald and New England 10-mile champion Roy Whelton from Lawrence, Mass.
Morrissey overtook third-place finisher Bob Fowler past Cleveland Circle as Hayes came on strong to capture the runnerup position in 2:26:04.
1. Tom Morrissey — New York;
2. Johnny Hayes — New York;
3. Robert Fowler — Massachusetts.
A record field of 164 runners were beset with inferno-like race conditions as the temperature reached 97 degrees at race time, providing intolerable conditions for the 91 runners who were forced to drop out along the way.
As many as nine different runners held the lead through the first 20 miles, including Hopi Indian Lewis Tewanina. But it was New Hampshire mill hand Henri Renaud who prevailed in 2:53:36. He passed through Framingham in 53rd place and, with two miles remaining, passed a weary Harry Jensen from New York. Only Renaud was able to keep running without stopping over the final miles.
1. Henri Renaud — Nashua, New Hampshire;
2. Harry Jensen — New York;
3. Patrick Grant — New York.