For the elite runners in the field, the Boston Marathon can be a lucrative day at the office. In 2010, the winners shared $806,000 in prize money. The first place finisher in the men's and the women's races each take home $150,000. The top 15 overall finishers each take home money, with the fifteenth place finisher winning $1,500. Racers in the Master's categories divvy up a $40,000 pot, with the male and female winners taking home $10,000 each. Push Rim Wheelchair competitors share a $60,000 pool, with the winners taking home $15,000. Set a world best or course record in your division, and you can earn a cash bonus. [source: Boston Athletic Association: Prize Money]
In 2010, Robert "The Younger" Cheruiyot of Ethiopia blitzed a new course record of 2:05:52. Kenyan Margaret Okayo established the women's course record in 2002 with a time of 2:20:43. The course records for the wheelchair division are 1:18:27 by Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa, set in 2004, and American Jean Driscoll, whose time of 1:34:22, set in 1994, has yet to be beat.
Four Olympic champions, three of whom are women, have also won the Boston Marathon. Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia is the most recent Olympic champion to have this distinction. She won the 1996 Olympic marathon and took the Boston Marathon title the following year. American Joan Benoit Samuelson won two Boston Marathons before winning the first-ever gold medal in Women's Marathon at the 1984 Olympics. Portugal's Rosa Mota won three Boston titles, one of which was in 1988, the same year she won Olympic gold. The only male Olympic champion to win Boston was Gelindo Bordin of Italy who won the Olympics in 1988 and the Boston Marathon in 1990.
In the stamina category, two-time Olympian John A. Kelley "The Elder" has the distinction of being in the most Boston Marathons. He started 61 races and finished 58 of them. Two of his finishes were wins.
Even though the Boston Athletic Association organizes the race, it can only boast one champion throughout the marathon's 114-year history. B.A.A. Club Member John J. Kelley "The Younger" won the race in 1957, with a then-course record of 2:20:05.
For most runners, however, finishing the granddaddy of all marathons is victory enough.
Read on for lots more information about competing in marathons.