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International Baby Names: Boston Marathon winners

Ingrid, Ellison and Ambrose

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By Tiana Putric

The Boston Marathon, rooted in ancient Greek history, is the oldest modern annual marathon in the world: it was established in 1897 – 120 years ago! Taking place every year on Patriots’ Day, it draws tens of thousands of marathoners from around the world who compete while hundreds of thousands of spectators watch, applaud, and shout words of encouragement.

Last week, the names of winners Geoffrey and Edna, Marcel and Manuela were added to those of the past. Let’s look back at the interesting names of eight earlier Boston Marathon winners, from Ellison Brown in the men’s open to Jacqueline Gareau in the women’s open to Marcel Hug and Edith Hunkeler in the men’s and women’s wheelchair division.

Men’s Open:

Ellison Myers Brown: Two-time winner 1936 & 1939

Both a given name and a surname, Ellison means ‘son of Ellis‘ in English and ‘son of Elias‘ in Hebrew. Traditionally a handsome male moniker, Ellison has today evolved into a predominately female appellation. Even so, if you like patronymic boy names like Carson, Jackson, and Harrison but want something more distinctive, Ellison last appeared as a male name on the U.S. Top 1000 in 1909. Ellis and Elson are variations.

Ambrose Joel Burfoot: Winner in 1968

The name Ambrose is derived from the Latin word ‘ambrosia’, meaning ‘immortal one’. According to Greek mythology those who sipped ambrosia, the drink of the Greek gods, were blessed with eternal life. Variations of the name include Ambrus (Hungarian), Ambrogio (Italian), and Emrys (Welsh).

Other names from the men’s open: Lameck Aguta, Lelisa Benti, Gérard Côté, Clarence DeMar (seven-time winner), and Wesley Korir.

Women’s Open:

Jacqueline Gareau: Winner in 1980

This graceful French appellation shares its roots and meaning, “she who supplants.”  with the English James, the French Jacques, and the Hebrew Jacob. Jacqueline was not only the name of America‘s famous First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but was also borne by Pablo Picasso‘s young wife and muse Jacqueline Roque, the subject of over 400 of Picasso‘s paintings – one of the best known being Jacqueline With Flowers.

Ingrid Kristiansen: Two-time winner 1986 & 1989

Ingrid is a classic Scandinavian appellation meaning ‘beautiful and beloved’. It is a quite popular import that has appeared on the U.S. Top 1000 every year since 1940. Award-winning Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, star of the 1942 Casablanca, popularized this name in America.

Other names from the women’s open: Teyba Erkesso, Lidiya Grigoryeva, Salina Kosgei, Nina Kuscsik, and Wanda Panfil.

Men’s Wheelchair:

Marcel Hug: Winner in 2015

A variation of the Latin Marcellus, Marcel is a distinguished appellation meaning ‘young warrior’. Europeans are very fond of various forms of the name: Marceli (Polish), Marcelo (Spanish), Marcello (Italian), and Marzell (German). A French diminutive of the name Marcus, distinguished namesakes include Proust and Duchamp.

Ernst van Dyk: Earned his 10th win in 2014

Ernst is a German form of Ernest and means ‘serious’. Rarely used here, Ernst last appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 in 1919, when German names started to fade. Perhaps Ernst, like other vintage boy names such as Augustus, Lawrence, Stanley, and Walter, will see a rise in usage and popularity, though Ernest is more likely.

Other names from men’s wheelchair: Curt Brinkman, Joshua CassidyHeinz Frei, Franz Nietlispach, and André Viger.

Women’s Wheelchair: 

Edith Hunker: Two-time winner 2002 & 2006

The Old English appellation Edith, meaning ‘prosperous in war’, has always been a well used American name , appearing on the U.S. Top 1000 every year since at least 1880. A true vintage name, Edith has many lovely forms including Edeline, similar to Adeline, and Edette, similar to Odette. Spelling variations of Edith include Edithe and Edyth and its popular nickname is Edie. It recently got a bounce from Downton Abbey.

Tatyana McFadden: Earned her 3rd victory in 2015

Tatyana, a more adorned version of Tanya, has Latin and Russian origins, stemming from a Latin family name. Tatyana is a rarer form of the royal name Tatiana and has numerous spelling variations including Tatyanna and Tatianna (English), Tatjana (Russian & German), and Tatienne (French).

Other names from women’s wheelchair: Sheryl Bair, Candace CableBrookes, Sherry Ramsey, Louise Sauvage, and Shirley Reilly.

Do you know someone who has participated in a marathon? What is his or her name?

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