Though the Boston Athletic Association is well known for hosting the Boston Marathon since its inception in 1897, it is a lot more than just a marathon to many runners. Established March 15, 1887 under president Robert F. Clark, the BAA is one of America’s oldest athletic clubs. The 1890 Constitution’s mission statement was to “encourage all manly sports and promote physical culture,” while the BAA of today has a mission of “promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running.”
The club originally hosted the BAA Games, a yearly springtime athletic competition, which ended with the 24.5-mile BAA Road Race. Just 10 years later, those 24.5 miles was transformed into 26.2. 15 runners participated in the first Boston Marathon, but only 10 finished.
The BAA is now a huge source of year-round community programming to promote health and fitness through the sport of running. There is a series of three events known as the Distance Medley, which is comprised of a 5K, 10K and half marathon. The BAA 5K is always the Saturday before the Marathon, and this year it falls on Saturday, April 18, 2015, starting and ending at the Boston Common. The 10K will take place on Sunday, June 21 on a course through Back Bay. The third and final event of the medley is the BAA Half Marathon, which is scheduled for October 11, 2015. Runners can enter the three races separately or as a part of the Distance Medley.
The BAA offers online training plans to help runners reach their goals. Free online schedules from High Performance Coach Terrence Mahon are meant for all runners regardless of experience and ability, using a variety of paces, intensities and run types. Over the course of several weeks, each runner is meant to see an increase in performance and confidence.
Another aspect of the BAA, the BAA Running Club, is comprised of an extremely dedicated subset of athletes who participate in weekly workouts and organized long runs. The team can be seen at many New England road races, indoor and outdoor track meets and cross-country events. The BAA staff coaches these athletes with year-round workouts in the Metro-Boston area. There is also a performance-based racing team for elite members of the team.
The BAA has also inspired over 30,000 Boston-area youths with a variety of Training Basics Clubs. The BAA offers children an annual relay challenge, an invitational mile and 1K, a kids’ 10K and other races. The BAA also hosts the Boston Middle School Cross Country Championship and the Mayor’s Cup Cross Country Youth Races.
The final form of participation in the BAA is that of training clinics. These in-person lectures in the days leading up the Boston Marathon, BAA 10K and the BAA Half Marathon are free and open to entrants and their guests. These clinics are put on in conjunction with Adidas in order to help runners customize training plans, hear training tips and select apparel and footwear. The clinics are located in Boston and provide support to runners in the area.