Countdown to Boston: 10 fun facts

Boston Marathon officials rely on more than 8,000 volunteers to help make the event run smoothly. Darren McCollester/Getty Images

With less than a week until the 2013 Boston Marathon, it's time to floss your knowledge with some fun facts to impress your marathoning friends.

• The Boston Marathon is iconic for a reason -- it's both the oldest (dating back to 1887) and the fastest (median time of 3:44) marathon in the country.

• Approximately 500,000 spectators line the marathon's course each year -- that number represents 80 percent of Boston's population.

• Women were officially excluded from the race until 1972. Kathrine Switzer famously entered as "K.V. Switzer" in 1967 and was nearly stopped by race official Jock Semple. Switzer dodged his grabby hands and ran on to cross the finish line in 4 hours and 20 minutes.

• From water-stop duties to Porta Potty patrol, more than 8,000 volunteers are on hand to help ensure a seamless event.

• As the final finishers cross the line, race director Dave McGillivray heads back to Hopkinton to run the 26.2-mile course in memory of his grandfather, as he's done for 39 straight years.

• Fenway Park gets in on the tradition every year with a Patriots Day home game. After the game, Red Sox fans (and players) stream into Kenmore Square to cheer on runners.

• Runners must be 18 years old to enter the marathon, but there are no upper age limits. Last year, Madonna Buder finished in 5:38 at the age of 81.

• The loudest cheers on the course echo from Wellesley College's campus. The all-women school shows up in force, with students lining the streets in what runners affectionately call the "Scream Tunnel." Hollers can be heard from hundreds of yards away -- but runners have to get close to make good on the dozens of "Kiss me!" signs.

• Aside from the traditional laurel wreath made from leaves picked in Greece, the winner snags a purse of $150,000 -- and an additional $25,000 for a course record. Not too shabby for a few hours of work.

• Women's Running magazine's editor-in-chief, Jessie Sebor, and contributing editors Kara Deschenes and Allison Patillo will head to Beantown to run the 2013 race. Track their progress on race day by following @WomensRunning on Twitter.