Americans have Shirley Reilly to thank for upholding national pride last year. She’s the last American to win any division of the Boston Marathon, taking the 2012 crown in the women’s wheelchair category. To find an American sporting a laurel wreath in another division we need to look back 20 years to when Jim Knaub won the men’s wheelchair race in 1993. When he triumphed, it had already been nearly a decade since an American runner placed first, with Lisa Larsen Weidenbach breaking the tape in the women’s open division in 1985. Two years earlier Greg Meyer became the last American male runner to win, a victory drought now spanning 30 years. — Lane Turner and Lisa Tuite
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
April 16, 2012: Women's wheelchair winner Shirley Reilly (left) neared the tape followed close by second place winner Wakako Tsuchida. The mid-80s temperature didn't bother the native Alaskan as she lived and trained in Arizona. Reilly's winning time of 1:37:36 was just one second ahead of Tsuchida, who had won the previous five Boston Marathon races.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
April 16, 2012: Shirley Reilly was congratulated by her mom, Dora, at the finish line. The wheelchair division for women was added to the race in 1977, two years after the one for men.
April 19, 1993: US Senator John Kerry fired the starting gun for the wheelchair division of the 97th start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton. The Boston Marathon became the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division competition, beginning with the men in 1975 and the women in 1977.
Yunghi Kim/ Globe Staff
April 19, 1993: The last American men's wheelchair winner, Jim Knaub, crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 17 seconds. In doing so he broke his own world record and Boston Marathon record and collected $26,500 as well as the winner's wreath.
George Rizer/ Globe Staff
April 15, 1985: The last American woman to win the Boston Marathon, Lisa Larsen Weidenbach, crossed the finish line in 2:34:06. This was the last race to finish at the Prudential Center Plaza. John Hancock became the marathon's new sponsor and the finish line was moved down Boylston Street to Copley Square the next year.
Michael Quan/Boston Globe Archive
April 15, 1985: Lisa Larsen Weidenbach happily wore the laurel wreath presented to marathon winners. The wreaths, fashioned from branches of olive trees in Marathon, Greece, were made specifically for the Boston Marathon winners each year. This was the last year before winners were offered prize money.
David L. Ryan/ Globe Staff
April 18, 1983: The pack at the start of the race in Hopkinton. Grey Meyer, the eventual winner, led wearing number 3. The top five finishers were all Americans: Ron Tabb was second, Benji Durden, third, Ed Mendoza, fourth and Chris Bunyan finished fifth.
George Rizer/Globe Staff
April 18, 1983: The last American male winner of the Boston Marathon, Greg Meyer, received his laurel wreath from Mayor Kevin H. White. Meyer's win in 2:09:00 was the 10th fastest in history and the third fastest in Boston.