Ambrose J. Burfoot of Groton, Ct., crosses finish line with both feet in air to win 72nd annual Boston Marathon, April 19, 1968. Burfoot, Wesleyan University senior covered the 26 miles and 385 yards in 2:22:17.

Credit: AP Photo

Amby Burfoot Back At The Start Line 50 Years After His Marathon Win

April 16, 2018

On Patriot's Day in 1986, 21 year-old Amby Burfoot won the Boston Marathon. Fifty years later, he’s running the race again at the age of 71 to commemorate his big win.

Burfoot joined Boston Public Radio to talk about that memorable race. 

"In 1968, I had been training my butt off at college at Wesleyan University in Middletown Connecticut. I had won a lot of races ... and winning most of my events, so I thought I had a good chance of running very strongly at Boston. What I didn't know was that I was simply going to have the once-in-a-lifetime racing day, where I felt strong and fresh, and barely felt like I was jogging out there for the first half of the course," Burfoot said. "I returned to Boston many years afterwards hoping for the same day, and it never came back again." 

He also gave running tips, and recalled his thoughts during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

"That was a very emotional day ... for me, it was different than some people. I was at the 25-mile mark, I thought I was about to be the heroic oldest returning finisher [on the] 45th anniversary of my win," he said. "Suddenly, we're stopped, we had not seen anything, we had not heard anything, and the police who stop us appear to have no information. So we're just struck, we're dumbfounded, and we're not too happy. There was nothing to do but walk back to my hotel room, and when I got there and saw the TV monitors and realized the tragedy ... I felt so  embarrassed ... that I'd thought the race was all about me, and now I find out, it's about everyone else."

Burfoot says that inspired him to now acknowledge as many people as possible in every race he runs — for instance, during this year's marathon, he'll be handing out thank-you notes to spectators, young and old, along the route. 

"The card says, 'Thank you, Boston Marathon fans. It's your support and cheering that have made this the world's best marathon for so long,'" he said. 


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