Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Boston Marathon Banners

Today Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of both the Boston and New York City Marathons, climbed aboard a cherry picker to unveil the 111th Boston Marathon banners. The event, which traditionally welcomes spring and unofficially kicks off marathon activities, took place at the Boston Marathon finish line in Copley Square.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the most prestigious road racing events in the world. John Hancock Financial Services is celebrating the 21st year of its sponsorship of the race, which takes place on Monday, April 16, 2007.

"It's always an honor to raise the John Hancock banners," Bill Rodgers said. "When people see the banners in March, there is a buzz that moves through the city since everyone knows the Marathon is right around the corner. I believe a lot of Bostonians and die-hard running fans are counting down the days until Marathon Monday."

John Hancock provides hundreds of banners, which will be hung throughout the city in the coming days to celebrate the race and the achievements of the athletes. The colorfully designed banners will add a welcomed sign of spring to the streets of Boston.

"This is always an exciting time of year," Guy Morse, Executive Director of the Boston Athletic Association, said. "The hanging of the Boston Marathon banners is a harbinger of spring as everyone's attention turns toward race day."

A Massachusetts local, Rodgers has raced competitively in the top echelon of his sport for more than a quarter century. The two American records he set at Boston in 1975 (2:09:55) and 1979 (2:09:27) remain among the fastest times ever run. In the history of the race only Rodgers and two other men, Clarence DeMar and Gerard Cote, have been crowned champion four or more times. Ranked the number one marathon runner in the world by Track & Field News three times during his career, Rodgers won Boston in 1975 and then was a three-peat winner from 1978-80.

In 1999, Runners World ranked him the number 10 world marathoner of the century, and he was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame and the National Distance Running Hall of Fame. In 1998 and 2000, USA Track and Field ranked him the number one runner in his age division (50-54). In 2001, he finished first in the 50-59 division at the B.A.A. Half Marathon. Rodgers has set 13 masters road records since he turned 40 and continues to run about 25 races a year with impressive results.