• Parasports World

BOSTON MARATHON: From running competition to booming business

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

You’ve probably heard of the Boston Marathon before. After all it is one of the biggest marathons in the world. But did you know there are parasports categories, or divisions for paralympic athletes as they call it, in this big event? The winner of the Push Rim Wheelchair Division receives $25,000 in prize money.


Paralympic champion Ernst van Dyck just before crossing the ribbon at the Boston Marathon (source: baa.org)

What is the Boston Marathon and how does it include parasports?


The concept of the marathon is fairly simple: people running, or rolling in this case, a preset course of 42,195 km as quickly as possible, the first one to cross the finish line wins. In Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, United States, they took this concept and turned it to a pretty big event with an average of 30,000 competitors.


Some of those competitors are para-athletes. They compete in divisions suitable to their impairments. However there are only divisions for push rim wheelchair athletes and visually impaired athletes. To make the competition as fair as possible wheelchair athletes must have an U.S. or World Para Athletics classification and Visually impaired athletes. Visually impaired athletes must have a U.S. or World Para Athletics classification in T11, T12, or T13.


From 2020 there will be a division for running athletes with a physical impairment as well.


How did they begin?


It was Eugene Roberts, a Vietnam veteran, who firstly finished the Boston Marathon in a wheelchair in 1970. It took him just over seven hours Eugene was not officially registered as a wheelchair competitor. Five years later, in 1975, it was Bob Hall who was the first official wheelchair competitor to finish the Boston Marathon. Which made the Boston Marathon the first major marathon to include wheelchair races. Hall later became the coordinator of the wheelchair division of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). In 1977 Sharon Rahn was the first woman to finish the marathon by wheelchair, only five years after the first official female competitor.


Paralympic champion Tatyana McFadden waiting for the start at the Boston Marathon (source: baa.org)

Paralympic Champion Marcel Hug waiting for the start at the Boston Marathon (source: baa.org)

Where can you find out more about the Boston Marathon?


Boston Marathon website: www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/awd

Boston Marathon on Instagram: www.instagram.com/bostonmarathon / @bostonmarathon

Boston Marathon on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BAA/


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Stay tuned. Parasports World provides parasports news, paralympic sports entertainment and disability sports community. Find great parasport and inspiring para-athletes from the Paralympic Games, the Invictus Games and parasport events.


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