Boston Marathon relay to commemorate World War I race

Associated Press
Published: 3/15/2018 8:37:59 PM

The Boston Marathon will add a ceremonial relay this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the year World War I interrupted the traditional footrace.

Sixteen active and retired members of the military will pass a baton along the course on April 16 while 30,000 runners make their way from Hopkinton to Boston. The relay runners will represent five branches of the service and all eight cities and towns along the course.

“Each edition of the Boston Marathon offers an opportunity to reflect on milestones in the history of the marathon,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the Boston Athletic Association. “This year’s centennial celebration of the 1918 military relay presents a particularly moving opportunity to do so once again.”

First run in 1897, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual 26.2-mile race. But in 1918, with many of the nation’s fittest men at war, the BAA staged a 10-man relay to keep the tradition going. (Women weren’t officially allowed to run the race until 1972.)

The relay was won by a group from Camp Devens in central Massachusetts.

“As the nation deepened its involvement in World War I, and as resources here at home were spread thin and priorities were rearranged, the people of Boston still believed that the tradition of the marathon should be preserved as a unifying event for the country and the region,” Grilk said. “As it is today.”

The relay will begin at 9:40 a.m., between the women’s start and the one for the bulk of the field. Two runners will participate in tandem – not racing – before passing the baton to the next pair.

Christopher Hampton, a Marine from Natick, Mass., will be passing the baton to his older brother, Benjamin, a fellow Marine and fellow Natick firefighter. Laura Piscopo, a six-year Army veteran from Newton, Mass., will run to honor her grandfather, who served in World War I.

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