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Guide to the Boston Marathon

With its thriving arts scene, deep roots in American history and lush displays of nature, Boston attracts millions of tourists for business and leisure each year. The city is at its busiest in the third week of April when it hosts the world-famous Boston Marathon, organized by the Boston Athletic Association. During this time of year, tens of thousands of people come to take on the competition and cheer on their favorite runners for the largest annual event in the New England metropolis. Reserve your Massachusetts car rental and start preparing your trip to Beantown for this exhilarating competition by learning about the history, course and marathon festivities:

A Patriot's Day celebration

There's a reason the marathon is held on the third Monday of each April: Patriot's Day. The race was established in 1897 and inspired by the inaugural installment of the modern Olympics that were held the year before; however, the famous test of endurance was planned around the holiday that commemorated the historic 1775 midnight ride of Paul Revere. In fact, the original planners once considered laying the course over the route that the iconic Revolutionary War hero traveled as he warned that the British were coming. While it started out as a humble event with 15 runners (though only 10 actually completed it), the Boston Marathon has since grown to include thousands of competitors and a variety of special marathon day festivities, such as reenactments of Revere's horse ride and the initial battles of the Revolutionary War.

Running the course

The Boston Marathon course takes steady determination and stamina to complete. Though it's open to both amateur and professional athletes, the race is quite demanding and entails months of training for even the most seasoned runner. It stretches for 26 miles and 385 yards, starting in Hopkinton, Mass. at noon and ending in Copley Square in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston after going through several towns and cities along the way.

Those who take on the feat may find it to be quite delightful at first - Ashland, Framingham, and Natick provide easy terrain, and the halfway point takes you past Wellesley College, where the students of this all-women's school cheer with unbelievable energy and offer kisses to passing runners. Then the hard parts come - the suburban city of Newton has a series of hills that wear you out just before you reach the infamous Heartbreak Hill, an incline of a half mile that is the end of the line for many runners who just can't push themselves further. Spectators may want to drive their Boston car rentals to this spot to cheer and show support for those falling behind.

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