Year-by-Year Synopsis of the Boston Marathon from 1897 to 1985, Prepared & Distributed by the BAA for the 90th Race (5)



Former Cornell University track standout Jon Anderson pulled away from defending champion Olavi Suomalainen near the 20-mile mark and won by more than 1 1/2 minutes in 2:16:03.

New Jersey’s Tom Fleming closed fast over the final miles to grab the runner-up spot from Suomalainen. This was the first of Fleming’s two second place finishes at Boston.

Jackie Hansen from Granada Hills, California, won the women’s race with a record 3:05:59 as the field reached a record 1,384 participants.

1. Jon Anderson — Oregon;
2. Tom Fleming — New Jersey;
3. Olavi Suomalainen — Finland.

1. Jackie Hansen — California;
2. Nina Kuscsik — New York;
3. Jennifer Taylor — Newton, Massachusetts.


The preview of the college speed boys was beginning to make its presence felt at Boston. Ireland’s Neil Cusack, a student at East Tennessee State University, ran away with a convincing 2:13:39 victory, the second fastest winning effort up to this point.

New Jersey’s Tom Fleming was second again, 46 seconds back.

Michiko “Miki” Gorman, 38, from Los Angeles, led the women’s field with a record 2:47:11 performance. This was the first time a woman had run under the three hour mark at Boston.

1. Neil Cusack — Ireland;
2. Tom Fleming — New Jersey;
3. Jerome Drayton — Canada.

1. Michiko Gorman — California;
2. Christa Kifferschlager — West Germany;
3. Nina Kuscsik — New York.


Boston’s Bill Rodgers, “The People’s Choice” and the runner most responsible for popularizing the marathon boom, stunned the largest field to date (2,041 starters) with an American and course record 2:09:55.

What made Rodgers’ record run even more impressive is that he stopped five times — four times for water and once to tie a shoe lace.

West German Liane Winter established a world best performance for women, bettering Miki Gorman’s course record in 2:42:24.

1. Bill Rodgers — Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts;
2. Steve Hoag — Minnesota;
3. Tom Fleming — New Jersey.

1. Liane Winter — West Germany;
2. Kathy Switzer — New York;
3. Gayle S. Barron — Georgia.


The race was almost over before it began. America’s Bicentennial year provided the hottest race conditions ever at Boston.

The “run for the hoses” — as the race became known — suffered through 100-plus–degree temperatures as more than 40 percent of the 1,898 starters failed to finish.

Jack Fultz, a 27-year-old undergraduate at Georgetown University, survived the oppressive conditions and the early pace setting by Swaziland’s Richard Mabuza (39th) to finish in 2:20:19.

Kim Merritt from Racine, Wisconsin, led the women in 2:47:10.

1. Jack Fultz — Virginia;
2. Mario Cuevas — Mexico;
3. Jose De Jesus — Puerto Rico.

1. Kim Merritt — Wisconsin;
2. Michiko Gorman — California;
3. Dorothy B. Doolittle — Texas.


Canadian Jerome Drayton, third in the ’74 race, hooked up early in a duel with ’75 champion Bill Rodgers.

But as the 77-degree heat began to take its toll on Rodgers, Drayton pulled away past Wellesley Hills and went on to defeat a record field of 2,810 in 2:14:46.

This was Drayton’s fifth Boston attempt as he became the first from the north country to win Boston since the ’48 triumph of Cote.

Michiko Gorman led the women’s field once again as she finished ahead of the largest women’s field in 2:48:44.

1. Jerome Drayton — Canada;
2. Veli Bally — Turkey;
3. Brian Maxwell — Canada.

1. Michiko Gorman — California;
2. Marilyn T. Bevans — Maryland;
3. Lisa Lorraine — Georgia.


Bill Rodgers was back in fine form, but he had to hold off a fast-closing Jeff Wells to win by two seconds.

Rodgers finished in 2:10:13, with Wells at 2:10:15, in the race’s closest finish ever.

Television sportscaster Gayle Barron led the women’s field in 2:44:52.

1. Bill Rodgers — Melrose, Massachusetts;
2. Jeff Wells — Texas;
3. Esa Tikkanen — Finland.

1. Gayle Barron — Georgia;
2. Penny DeMoss — California;
3. Jane C. Killion — New York.


Win Number 3 for Bill Rodgers saw the world’s top-ranked marathoner at his competitive best. He ran to a course and American record (his second at Boston) in 2:09:27.

Rodgers ran away from Japan’s Toshihiko Seko on Heartbreak Hill, as well as a record field of 7,897. Rodgers’ effort was the fourth fastest marathon ever run.

Rodgers’ teammate from the Greater Boston Track Club, Bob Hodge, finished third in 2:12:30 as the GBTC placed four runners in the top 10.

Bowdoin College student Joan Benoit led the women’s field with a surprising American women’s record performance in 2:35:15.

1. Bill Rodgers — Melrose, Massachusetts;
2. Toshihiko Seko — Japan;
3. Robert Hodge — Boston, Massachusetts.

1. Joan Benoit — Bowdoin College, Maine;
2. Patti Lyons — Massachusetts;
3. Susan C. Krenn — California.


This made it three straight for Bill Rodgers, but he had to fight off his biggest nemesis — warm weather conditions — as temperatures soared to the high 70s.

Rodgers worked hard for this win. He finished in 2:12:11, over a minute ahead of Italy’s Marco Marchei (2:13:20) with American Ron Tabb (2:14:48) third.

Canadian Jacqueline Gareau was triumphant in the women’s race in 2:34:28. But some of the acclaim she was due was briefly put on hold as a despicable act by New Yorker Rosie Ruiz caused much of the race day glamour for Gareau to be diminished. Ruiz jumped into the crowded field less than a mile from the finish and ran across ahead of Gareau.

I. Bill Rodgers — Melrose, Massachusetts;
2. Marco Marchei — Italy;
3. Ron Tabb — Texas.

1. Jacqueline Gareau — Canada;
2. Patti Lyons — Massachusetts;
3. Gillian P. Adams — England.


Japan’s Toshihiko Seko made amends for his runner-up finish in the ’79 race by beating Americans Craig Virgin and Bill Rodgers with a course record 2:09:26. Seko’s time bettered by one second the course mark established by Rodgers in the ’79 Boston run.

Seko made his first move on the downgrade from Heartbreak Hill. He got by Rodgers and then focused his sights on Craig Virgin, whom he passed with less than five miles to go.

Seko finished exactly one minute up on Virgin, with Rodgers another eight seconds behind the former University of Illinois All-American.

New Zealander Allison Roe ran away from Patti Catalano with a course-record performance 2:26:46. This marked the third year in a row Catalano finished in the runner-up position. But her time of 2:27:51 established an American women’s record.

1. Toshihiko Seko — Japan;
2. Craig Virgin — Illinois;
3. Bill Rodgers — Melrose, Massachusetts

1. Allison Roe — New Zealand;
2. Patti Catalano — Mass.;
3. Joan Benoit — New Hampshire.


Certainly one of the most memorable duels in the history of Boston was waged on this sun-scorched afternoon as Alberto Salazar, a Cuban native raised in Wayland MA, and Minnesota dairy farmer Dick Beardsley fought each other over the nine-mile stretch from the Newton hills to the finish.

Beardsley did the front running but by no more than a step or two — as Salazar tucked in behind Beardsley and his record pace.

It was with less than one mile remaining that Salazar moved to the front and now Beardsley was giving chase. It stayed this way as both runners sprinted to the finish only two seconds apart. Salazar finished in 2:08:52 and Beardsley in 2:08:54 — the first time two runners broke two-hours, nine-minutes in the same race.

The two-second difference equaled the closest finish in the race’s history between Bill Rodgers and Jeff Wells in 1978.

West German Charlotte Teske easily won the women’s race with a comfortable 2:29:33 effort seven minutes ahead of Canada’s Jacqueline Gareau.

1. Alberto Salazar — Oregon;
2. Dick Beardsley — Minnesota;
3. John Lodwick — Texas.

1. Carlotte Teske — West Germany;
2. Jacqueline Gareau — Canada;
3. Eileen Claugus — California.


Greg Meyer, a Michigan native, ran a tactically sound race and the third fastest time ever in winning the ’83 Boston Marathon in 2:09:00.

Meyer followed the lead of Georgia’s Benji Durden and, after a brief surge in the Newton hills, ran the remaining miles alone to become the third fastest American performer ever.

Durden, after handling much of the early pace-setting work, finished third, as Oregon’s Ron Tabb closed fast over the final miles to grab the runner-up spot.

Meyer shared the spotlight this day with Maine’s Joan Benoit, who shattered the women’s world best mark with a stunning 2:22:43. Benoit set out at a mind-boggling 2:17 pace, attacking the course and every record possible along the way with stern determination.

Her time was more than two minutes faster than the old world mark, and she finished more than six minutes ahead of Canada’s Jacqueline Gareau.

1. Greg Meyer — Massachusetts;
2. Ron Tabb — Oregon;
3. Benji Durden — Georgia.

1. Joan Benoit — Massachusetts;
2. Jacqueline Gareau — Canada;
3. Mary Shea — North Carolina.


England’s Geoff Smith, using the Boston race as a qualifier for his selection to the British Olympic marathon team, ran virtually alone from the outset.

Many of the top Americans bypassed the Boston race in favor of the Olympic trials race, which was to be held one month later.

It was all Smith and the press vehicles as he finished in 2:10:34, over four minutes ahead of Connecticut’s Gerald Vanesse.

Smith’s performance secured him a selection to the British team, but an injury forced him to drop out of the Olympic marathon.

Likewise, the top New Zealand women were using the Boston race as the qualifier for their Olympic marathon team.

Lorraine Moller and ’81 champion Allison Roe controlled most of the front running during the early portion of the race. A sore hamstring muscle forced Roe to drop out and Moller continued on to a 2:29:28 performance, making her the fifth fastest women ever at Boston and earning her a spot on the New Zealand Olympic marathon team.

1. Geoff Smith — England;
2. Gerald Vanesse — Connecticut;
3. Domingo Tabaduiza — Columbia.

1. Lorraine Moller — New Zealand;
2. Midde Hamrin — Sweden;
3. Sissel Grottenberg — Norway.


Two decades of the Prudential Center Plaza finish came to an end after this race. The finish area was going to be torn up to make room for new construction but, most importantly, the race took on a new major sponsor in John Hancock Financial Services and the finish line was moved down Boylston Street to the vicinity of Copley Square.

Geoff Smith had little trouble in becoming the first Boston repeater since the performances of Bill Rodgers from 1978-1980.

Smith made it known he was setting out on a record pace right from the beginning. By the time the runners reached the first mile, Smith was on his way. He scorched the first half of the race in an incredible 1:02:51 (a 2:05:42 marathon pace).

However, Smith began to pay for his early record-setting pace as his legs began to cramp between miles 19 and 20. Smith slowed briefly but had built up such a large lead he was never threatened.

Lisa Larsen Weidenbach, the 1984 U.S. women’s Olympic marathon alternate, ran unpressed to the finish line in her first Boston try. Weidenbach finished in 2:34:06, more than eight minutes ahead of Lynn Huntington of Texas.

1. Geoff Smith — East Freetown, Massachusetts;
2. Gary Tuttle — California;
3. Mark Helgeson — Ohio.

1. Lisa Larsen Weidenbach — Massachusetts;
2. Lynne Huntington — Texas;
3. Karen Dunn — New Hampshire.