Established in 1887, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) is a non-profit organization with a mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. The B.A.A. has organized the Boston Marathon® since the event’s inception in 1897.The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's most prestigious road racing events. The B.A.A. continues to manage this American classic, which has been sponsored by John Hancock Financial since 1986. The Boston Marathon has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity, and method of gaining entry into the race (via qualification).