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Along The Boston Marathon Route: Ashland

Ashland. (Photo credit: Lisa Plotnick)

The town of Ashland has a long standing association with the Boston Marathon — one that dates back to the marathon's inception and continues firmly today.

From 1897 through 1923, the starting line was located in Ashland. It was moved several times during this period as course corrections were made, before being permanently relocated to Hopkinton in 1924.

Today, the course through Ashland encompasses most of Mile 3 and all of Miles 4 and 5.

A group of residents has proposed a marathon museum at the site of the original starting line.

The most prominent association between Ashland and the marathon can be found in the Ashland Special Programs & Community Gift Fundraiser.

In this annual program, 25 marathon runners are selected by the town to raise funds for community services such as the Food Pantry, Ashland Youth & Family Services, police-fire special programs, and community enrichment library programs. Each runner is expected to raise at least $2,500.

Ashland boasts another significant historical footnote, too.

In 1918, resident Henry Ellis Warren was awarded the patent for the first synchronous electric clock. As founder of the Warren Clock Company, he had spent years perfecting the mechanisms that would provide an alternative to the then-undependable battery-powered clocks. The company later took the name Telechron and manufactured its electric clocks in Ashland through the 1970s. The company's 1927-built headquarters remain, and are on the Marathon route at Union and Chestnut Streets. The clock tower is now a well known landmark for the runners during their fourth mile.

Ashland is located in Middlesex County, approximately 21 miles west of Boston.

It shares its borders with Hopkinton to the southwest, Southborough to the northwest, Framingham to the northeast, Sherborn to the west, and Holliston to the south.

The 12.9-square mile town was incorporated in 1846 and had 16,593 residents according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Lisa Plotnick is a Boston-based writer and editor who is passionate about travel, whether locally or internationally. After a 25-year career in financial services, she is turning her avocation into a vocation. Her work may be found on

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