Town leaders from Hopkinton have invited their counterparts from Ashland to a reception at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts on Thursday night to “acknowledge, honor and celebrate” Ashland’s role in the race’s history.
The event will feature presentations by Massachusetts Senate President Karen E. Spilka, Consul General of Greece in Boston Symeon Tegos and Boston Athletic Association President and CEO Jack Fleming.
The 2023 Boston Marathon marks the 100th anniversary of the last time the race started in Ashland. The first Boston Marathon in 1897 measured 24.5 miles and began at Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, finishing at the Irvington Oval in Boston.
The distance was chosen so it would be similar to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. That race was 24.8 miles, chosen to remember the distance Pheidippides ran from the plains of Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. to report the Athenians’ victory over the Persians.
At the 1908 Olympics in London, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria desired for the race to begin at Windsor Castle so the royal family could watch. So the distance was stretched out to 26 miles — from the castle to the Olympic Stadium, with an extra 385 yards so the race could finish around the track.
In 1924, that longer distance was adopted for all marathons, and the Boston Marathon start line was moved to Hopkinton to accommodate the change.