Bill Rogers is back to race the Boston Marathon

The man who helped create a nationwide running boom in the 1970s will participate in the marathon that made him famous around the world.

Bill Rodgers yesterday announced he would compete for the 17th time in the Boston Marathon. Rodgers, 61, doesn’t plan to chase any of the existing masters records, adding that he planned to “run for the fun of it.” He last participated in the Boston Marathon in its historic centennial running in 1996, finishing in 2:53:23 at the age of 48.

The organizers of the jaunt from Hopkinton Center to Copley Square are delighted to have Rodgers on board. Rodgers has been awarded a bib bearing his name and the number 79, commemorating the 30th anniversary of his 1979 victory. In all, he broke the tape four times (1975, ’78, ’79 and ’80).

“We couldn’t be happier that Bill has chosen to run this year,” BAA executive director Guy Morse said. “Just the name Bill Rodgers brings to mind the true spirit and joy of running the Boston Marathon, from the race champions to the age-group athletes to those running to raise funds for charity.

“The man is known as ‘Boston Billy’ for a reason.”

Rodgers copped his first Boston Marathon victory as a member of the Greater Boston Track Club, the region’s premier road racing association of that era. With a winning time of 2:09:05 in 1975, he shattered both the course and American records while becoming the first runner to break the 2:10:00 barrier. He beat the largest field (2,121) to date that year, easily besting fellow Americans Steve Hoag and Tom Fleming – and stopped five times, for four water stops and once to tie his shoes.

In ’78, Rodgers returned and captured the closest race to that point in the history of the Boston Marathon. He fended off a late surge by Jeff Wells to win by two seconds in 2:10:13. Rodgers again broke the course and American records in 1979 by winning a showdown with Japanese phenomenon Toshihiko Seko in 2:09:27. In ’80, Rodgers made it three straight wins on a hot and humid day that zapped the life out of the rest of the field, finishing in 2:12.11 to better runner-up Marco Marchei of Italy by a minute.

Seko and American Craig Virgin finished ahead of Rodgers (2:10:34) in ’81. Rodgers’ last top-10 finish was in ’86, when he was fourth (2:13.36).bill-rogers

Tour of Turkey

tour-of-turkey3stg4mapb1