Long distance marathon runners in close-up

April is coming, which means Patriots Day and the historic Boston Marathon will once again grace our city. For those of you who are privy to all the hype and excitement surrounding the athletic tradition, but are uncertain as to what it’s all about, we put together a short breakdown of what makes the Boston Marathon one of the greatest races out there.

Patriots Day

Patriots Day is a Boston a tradition and city holiday that commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, which mark the start of the American Revolution. The battles occurred on April 19, and now the holiday is observed on the third Monday of the month. If you’re lucky enough to be in town for it, you’re in for a treat. The city will be flooded with race spectators, so every block feels like its own party. Also, everyone in Mass gets Patriots Day off, so there’s a festive atmosphere. The Boston Red Sox also always play a late-morning game every year on Patriots Day, another great way to celebrate.

It’s An Elite Race

The Boston Marathon has taken place every Patriots’ Day since 1897, marking the holiday and tying the race to the battles and linking American and Ancient Athenian struggles for liberty.  The world’s oldest annual marathon, it’s one of six World Marathon Majors, one that the best long-distance runners in the world aspire to take part in. Among this top-brass talent, the race attracts around 30,000 runners each year. This makes it one of the largest, and most coveted races out there.

There’s An Exceptional History

Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb is recognized as the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon, and she did so in 1966, even though women weren’t officially allowed to race until 1972. Rosie Ruiz appeared to win the women’s race in 1980, but a subsequent scandal showed that she skipped most of the race. In 2011, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the fastest marathon ever recorded right here. There’s also the 2013 tragedy, which the city turned into an opportunity to come together under the Boston Strong movement.

It’s New England’s Most Widely Attended Sporting Event

The illustrious history, sheer volume, and particular local charm all add up to make the Boston Marathon unlike any other sporting event in New England. And, even with teams like the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics—who are regularly some of the best teams in their respective leagues—their limited to the confines of arenas and a park. Boston is the Marathon course, and with its cultural significance, the event draws around a half-million spectators each year.

Thinking about running the race or joining the half-a-million spectators? Learn more about the Boston Marathon here.