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Famous eclipse moment in running history: The 1939 Boston Marathon

At the 1939 Boston Marathon, runners ran through an eclipse as the winner broke a course record.

Today, we experience the rare moment where we actually get to see a solar eclipse. If there’s ever been an argument to quit whatever you’re doing and run in the middle of the day, this is it. An eclipse is when the moon passes directly in front of the sun blocking out the light to leave only a small ring of sunshine around the edges. 

Canadians are getting a peak at this phenomenon throughout the day with those in St. John’s being the last to see it at 3:29 NDT.

Oftentimes, an eclipse results in a weird, dark lighting lasting into the afternoon. While some runners might get out to experience this odd, dim glow (just don’t look at the sun directly as it can cause damage to the eyes), it’s worth noting a point in running history where the solar eclipse played a role: the 1939 Boston Marathon. 

As the famous North American race posted today, during the 43rd edition of the race, runners at the start line noticed that the skies darkened. This was a result of a partial eclipse and they started the famous race in the somber atmosphere. That year, Ellison Brown became the first American to run a sub-2:30 at the Boston course. After mile 17, he also broke all the checkpoint records straight to the finish.  

Brown also won the race in 1936. In 1939, he won by almost three full minutes. The eclipse must have brought him some race day luck. 

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