I'm currently re-reading Tom Derderian's history of the Boston Marathon -- a great book. Of course, everyone laments the current state of U.S marathoning, blah blah blah. I don't think the US was ever particularly good at marathoning besides the 70s and early 80s. Besides, we're decent on the women's side; it's our men that aren't so good.
Anyway, I noticed something. It seems like a disproportionate number of American winners at Boston either grew up in New England or went to college there. (The BAA site lists a state for each winner, but the details are lacking.)
Thinking about it further, New England has produced a disproportionate number of U.S. marathoners with big accomplishments (like winning Boston, winning an Olympic medal, setting a WR, or a top-3 ranking by T&FN). The exceptions that I can come up with are Khalid Khannouchi and Mark Plaatjes (naturalized citizens) and Buddy Edelen (as a marathoner, he was American by citizenship only). In the 70s, there were Moore, Bachelor, and Kardong -- but that was when the U.S. was unusually strong in the men's marathon.
I'm just pulling this off the top of my head, so I'm sure you'll all correct me. But GH's monthly rant touched on America's inability to attract good track runners to the marathon as a major factor. It sure looks like Boston's status as a major sporting event attracted local elites to marathoning in general, and when it receded to sidebar-status the top runners began to ignore mrathoning.
What do you think?