Like this site:

What's New?


Weight Loss
Beginner Run Programs

Training & Tools


Race Distances



Heart Rate Monitors


Marathon Training Secrets
Fat Loss Jumpstart

...And Other Things...


[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!


Marathon History - How Long is a Marathon and What Does The History of the Marathon Have to Do With It?

running training

Marathon history goes back a few thousand years.

Nowadays, every year, hundreds of thousands of people run marathons.

Why do we run marathons? Some of us do so for the glory, many of us do so for the sense of achievement, and to raise money for charities and other good causes. What's your reason to run a marathon?

It is one of those sporting events that appeals to a wide public and that many can compete in.

Even if you are not a particularly good runner, you can still take part.

For example, many of the big marathons like the annual London marathon have hundreds of participants who walk the entire course.

Preparation for a marathon is demanding. They often say that the hardest part of the marathon is getting to the starting line uninjured.

Marathon Training Secrets can help you with all the essential information you need to make your marathon a success.

"I Love This Marathon Guide. It's Really Good. I Don't Get It. You Are Giving This Away for Free??? I Should Have Had This Years Ago. It's Never Been So Easy!"

Grab "Marathon Training Secrets" NOW. Run Your Marathon With Confidence.
Marathon Training Secrets eBook
"Thank you for these emails! As a beginner runner I am really getting a lot of valuable help from your knowledge!"

"Loving the tips! Loving them all. Keep it up …"

But, let's now get into some marathon history. What do the Greeks have to do with it? And how long is a marathon and why?

Marathon History: Where Did It All Begin?

marathon history
Marathon history starts in Greece
International athletes train for months and years just for the one day.

But where did it all begin?

The history of the marathon of modern times dates back to the 19th century.

But the early origins of the event are steeped in legend.

 Many historians believe that the history of the marathon dates back to a battle that took place in 490 B.C. The Athenians and Persians were fighting close to Athens, in a region known as "Marathon", when the Athenians sent a courier to ask for help from Sparta.

The courier, Phidippides, managed to cover the 150 miles in less than two days. The legend changed over time and it was claimed that he actually travelled to Sparta to tell of the Athenians victory at Marathon, and managed to utter a few words before dying from his efforts.

What do we make of this tale? What is true and what is fantasy? Whatever the answer is, it did have an impact on marathon history!

marathon history, phidippides

                    Statue of Phidippides

Marathon History: Modern Beginnings

Because the next chapter in marathon history is the first Olympics in 1896. 

A French historian, Michele Breal, offered a silver trophy for the winner of a race that re-enacted Phidippides' run.

marathon history, spiridon louis
Spiridon Louis

The Olympic organizers designed a 40-kilometer (24.8-mile) race, known as the marathon, which would be the climax of the 1896 Olympics, on April 10th.

Two trial marathons were held prior to this, in March, to select who would represent Greece at the Olympics. The event, involving 13 Greek, and 4 foreign competitors, was full of drama, but was eventually won by a Greek shepherd, Spiridon Louis.

Spiridon goes into sporting history as the first official Olympic marathon winner.

So, how long is a marathon then? 24.8 miles? No, it is not!

History of the Marathon Distance: How Long is a Marathon

The history of the marathon distance dates back to the 1908 London Olympics.

When the event organizers were laying out the Olympic course, they had first intended it to be 26 miles, starting at Windsor Castle, and finishing in the white City Stadium, in London.

However, it was decided that the finish line should be in front of the royal box. So they had to add a little bit of extra distance.This determined the marathon distance of 26.2 miles or 42.195 km. This marathon distance was officially adopted by Olympic officials in 1924.

in the first half of your race...

And the Rest is (Marathon) History....

And the rest, so they say, is history. There are so many more great marathoning moments to talk to you about. Too many to mention. I'll just talk to you about some famous ones here.

Emile Zatopek, a Czech, is responsible for one of those famous moments. He came to the 1952 Olympics and was known for his incredible training regime, especially with intervals. He'd do them for hours on end when nobody else in the world was doing intervals.

His running style was not pretty, but he was fast.

He took away the gold on the 5k and 10k and decided, he was there anyway, to also run the Olympic marathon. Why not indeed .... :)

He was leading early on in the race together with the British favorite.
He asked the Brit: "Should we really be running this slow or should we be going faster?".

The Brit said that yes, Zatopek should run a lot faster, hoping that he'd lose steam and falter in the second part of the race. Zatopek simply said "Oh, thank you.", raced off into the distance and snatched away the gold for the marathon as well!

Modern Marathon History....

I may be a bit running-crazy, but I think the marathon makes for excellent watching, excellent television. I can often just sit there in awe when you see the elite runners clock away km after km at 2:56-3:05 min / k.

Try to do that for one kilometre! Then imagine having to do that 42 x in a row. Simply unbelievable!

I have seen great races from people like Haile Gebreselassie, Paul Tergat, Felix Limo and many others.

The Right of Marathon Running.... Another Thing Women Have Had to Fight For....

Did you know that marathon running was for a long time seen to be too dangerous for women to participate in?

Check out this amazing video about Kathrine Switzer, first woman to run Boston.

And click this link to get Kathrine Switzer's own story about the events.

My Most Incredible Marathon History Moment....

But the most incredible marathon history moment for me was the Women's Commonwealth Games marathon of 2006.

I had only just moved from Holland to Australia. Life was a bit crazy those first few weeks of February 2006. Bit of stress, bit of emotions, coming to terms with a new life in a new country.

The Commonwealth Games were on in the city we had started calling home, Melbourne.

We were watching the women's marathon on TV. The leaders in the race were Kerryn McCann, a somewhat older runner (mid-30s) and mother of two, towards the end of her career, and a young Kenyan runner, Hellen Cheron Khoskei.

All the time during the race I had that feeling that McCann would have to let go at some point. She had won the Commonwealth Games marathon of four years earlier, but surely in her mid-30s she wouldn't be able to keep going against the young Kenyan. The running style wasn't pretty anymore. It had become a real battle, as the marathon can so often become in the final stages. But they stayed together, mile after mile.

The last 400m or so was to be run in the MCG, Melbourne's huge stadium with a capacity of about 100,000.  As the runners went into the tunnel leading into the MCG, it seemed like everybody went silent.

As the two women came out of the tunnel, the roar of the crowd was absolutely amazing. It was one of those moments in sporting history which is hard to describe. Goosebumps and highly emotional for many. Now, the MCG has been witness of many memorable sporting events. But I have talked to people who were there that day. And they all say that this was something else.

However, Khoskei quickly took over and seemed to get the gold. On the last home straight, McCann gave it all she got and just beat Khoskei to snatch away the gold.

She later said it was her greatest victory ever, probably the greatest race she had ever run.

She retired at the end of the year. It was an incredible, incredible race. Not only due to McCann. The battle with the younger runner and the story behind McCann's sporting career was all part of it. You wanted her to win that race.

The sad afternote is that only a few years later Kerryn passed away after a battle with cancer leaving behind a stlll young family with three kids.

You can see the end of that memorable race here:

Marathon History: Become Part of It...

Nowadays every major city, every region, seems to have its annual marathon.

Huge marathons in the USA are held annually in Boston, Chicago and New York, but there are many more cities with marathons that attract thousands of competitors.

In Europe the London Marathon has become really big. Fast runners like the Berlin and the Amsterdam marathons as well as the Rotterdam marathon.

Wherever you are, you can be sure there is a marathon in your area. The length is still seen to be a serious distance, too big to try for many.

And marathons have become big business. Charities have jumped on the bandwagon and are encouraging you to raise money for your favorite charity.

In some races, I think, this has gone a little bit too far. There are even a few races nowadays for which it is really hard to get an entry unless you raise money for charity. I don't think that's completely right.

For elite athletes there is serious prize money to be won in some of the larger marathons.

These big bucks can only be won by the elite runners. Those that combine their incredible natural talents with the willingness to work extremely hard at achieving success.

However for all of us there can be great pride in stepping in the footsteps of Phidipiddes of 2,500 years ago by finishing a marathon and striking it off our bucket lists.

But keep in mind, when you do decide to run a marathon, make sure you use a smart way to train and that you get all the right information. 

"I Love This Marathon Guide. It's Really Good. I Don't Get It. You Are Giving This Away for Free??? I Should Have Had This Years Ago. It's Never Been So Easy!"

Grab "Marathon Training Secrets" NOW. Run Your Marathon With Confidence.
Marathon Training Secrets eBook
"Thank you for these emails! As a beginner runner I am really getting a lot of valuable help from your knowledge!"

"Loving the tips! Loving them all. Keep it up …"

Liked This? You Will Like The Following Pages As Well!

benefits of running running tips running workouts

running for weight loss

Marathon History

Like this page:

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.



Click the picture above to subscribe to the FREE Best Running Tips Newsletter
Comes with free ebook.