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Athletics
Marathon
Berlin marathon.jpg
Competitors during the 2007 Berlin Marathon.
World records
MenKenya Eliud Kipchoge 2:01:39 (2018)
WomenKenya Brigid Kosgei 2:14:04 (2019)
Olympic records
MenKenya Samuel Wanjiru 2:06:32 (2008)
WomenEthiopia Tiki Gelana 2:23:07 (2012)
Championship records
MenKenya Abel Kirui 2:06:54 (2009)
WomenUnited Kingdom Paula Radcliffe 2:20:57 (2005)
Competitors during the 2014 Orlen Warsaw Marathon
Participant of the 2016 Boston Marathon, April 2016

The marathon is a long-distance race with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles 385 yards),[1] usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, who reported the victory. The marathon can be completed by running or with a run/walk strategy. There are also wheelchair divisions.

The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 800 marathons are held throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes, as larger marathons can have tens of thousands of participants.[2]

History

When the modern Olympics began in 1896, the initiators and organizers were looking for a great popularizing event, recalling the glory of ancient Greece. The idea of a marathon race came from Michel Bréal, who wanted the event to feature in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens. This idea was heavily supported by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, as well as by the Greeks.[14] The Greeks staged a selection race for the Olympic marathon on 22 March 1896 (Gregorian)[15] that was won by Charilaos Vasilakos in 3 hours and 18 minutes (with the future winner of the introductory Olympic Games marathon, Spyridon "Spyros" Louis, coming in fifth at a second race two weeks later).[16] The winner of the first Olympic marathon, on 10 April 1896 (a male-only race), was Spyridon Louis, a Greek water-carrier, in 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds.[17] The marathon of the 2004 Summer Olympics was run on the traditional route from Marathon to Athens, ending at Panathinaiko Stadium, the venue for the 1896 Summer Olympics. That men's marathon was won by Italian Stefano Baldini in 2 hours 10 minutes and 55 seconds, a record time for this route until the non-Olympics Athens Classic Marathon of 2014, when Felix Kandie lowered the course record to 2 hours 10 minutes and 37 seconds.

Burton Holmes's photograph entitled "1896: Three athletes in training for the marathon at the Olympic

There is debate about the historical accuracy of this legend.[9][10] The Greek historian Herodotus, the main source for the Greco-Persian Wars, mentions Philippides as the messenger who ran from Athens to Sparta asking for help, and then ran back, a distance of over 240 kilometres (150 mi) each way.[11] In some Herodotus manuscripts, the name of the runner between Athens and Sparta is given as Philippides. Herodotus makes no mention of a messenger sent from Marathon to Athens, and relates that the main part of the Athenian army, having fought and won the grueling battle, and fearing a naval raid by the Persian fleet against an undefended Athens, marched quickly back from the battle to Athens, arriving the same day.[12]

In 1879, Robert Browning wrote the poem Pheidippides. Browning's poem, his composite story, became part of late 19th century popular culture and was accepted as a historic legend.[13]

Mount Pentelicus stands between Marathon and Athens, which means that if Philippides actually made his famous run after the battle, he had to run around the mountain, either to the north or to the south. The latter and more obvious route matches almost exactly the modern Marathon-Athens highway, which follows the lay of the land southwards from Marathon Bay and along the coast, then takes a gentle but protracted climb westwards towards the eastern approach to Athens, between the foothills of Mounts Hymettus and Penteli, and then gently downhill to Athens proper. This route, as it existed when the Olympics were revived in 1896, was approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) long, and this was the approximate distance originally used for marathon races. However, ther

Mount Pentelicus stands between Marathon and Athens, which means that if Philippides actually made his famous run after the battle, he had to run around the mountain, either to the north or to the south. The latter and more obvious route matches almost exactly the modern Marathon-Athens highway, which follows the lay of the land southwards from Marathon Bay and along the coast, then takes a gentle but protracted climb westwards towards the eastern approach to Athens, between the foothills of Mounts Hymettus and Penteli, and then gently downhill to Athens proper. This route, as it existed when the Olympics were revived in 1896, was approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) long, and this was the approximate distance originally used for marathon races. However, there have been suggestions that Philippides might have followed another route: a westward climb along the eastern and northern slopes of Mount Penteli to the pass of Dionysos, and then a straight southward downhill path to Athens. This route is a bit shorter, 35 kilometres (22 mi), but includes a very steep initial climb of more than 5 kilometres (3.1 mi).

When the modern Olympics began in 1896, the initiators and organizers were looking for a great popularizing event, recalling the glory of ancient Greece. The idea of a marathon race came from Michel Bréal, who wanted the event to feature in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens. This idea was heavily supported by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, as well as by the Greeks.[14] The Greeks staged a selection race for the Olympic marathon on 22 March 1896 (Gregorian)[15] that was won by Charilaos Vasilakos in 3 hours and 18 minutes (with the future winner of the introductory Olympic Games marathon, Spyridon "Spyros" Louis, coming in fifth at a second race two weeks later).[16] The winner of the first Olympic marathon, on 10 April 1896 (a male-only race), was Spyridon Louis, a Greek water-carrier, in 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds.[17] The marathon of the 2004 Summer Olympics was run on the traditional route from Marathon to Athens, ending at Panathinaiko Stadium, the venue for the 1896 Summer Olympics. That men's marathon was won by Italian Stefano Baldini in 2 hours 10 minutes and 55 seconds, a record time for this route until the non-Olympics Athens Classic Marathon of 2014, when Felix Kandie lowered the course record to 2 hours 10 minutes and 37 seconds.

1984 Summer Olympics (Los Angeles, USA) and was won by Joan Benoit of the United States with a time of 2 hours 24 minutes and 52 seconds.[20]

It has become a tradition for the men's Olympic marathon to be the last event of the athletics calendar, on the final day of the Olympics.[21] For many years the race finished inside the Olympic stadium; however, at the 2012 London Olympics, the start and finish were on The Mall,[22] and at the 2016 Rio games (Rio de Janeiro), the start and finish were in the Sambódromo, the parade area that serves as a spectator mall for Carnival.[23]

Often, the men's marathon medals are awarded during the closing ceremony (including

It has become a tradition for the men's Olympic marathon to be the last event of the athletics calendar, on the final day of the Olympics.[21] For many years the race finished inside the Olympic stadium; however, at the 2012 London Olympics, the start and finish were on The Mall,[22] and at the 2016 Rio games (Rio de Janeiro), the start and finish were in the Sambódromo, the parade area that serves as a spectator mall for Carnival.[23]

Often, the men's marathon medals are awarded during the closing ceremony (including the 2004 games, 2012 games and 2016 games).

The Olympic men's record is 2:06:32, set at the 2008 Summer Olympics by Samuel Kamau Wanjiru of Kenya[24] (average speed about 20.01 kilometres per hour or 12.43 miles per hour). The Olympic women's record is 2:23:07, set at the 2012 Summer Olympics by Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia.[25] The men's London 2012 Summer Olympic marathon winner was Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda (2:08:01). Per capita, the Kalenjin ethnic group of Rift Valley Province in Kenya has produced a highly disproportionate share of marathon and track-and-field winners.

The Boston Marathon began on 19 April 1897, and was inspired by the success of the first marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics. It is the world's oldest run annual marathon, and ranks as one of the world's most prestigious road racing events. Its course runs from Hopkinton in southern Middlesex County, to Copley Square in Boston. Johnny Hayes' victory at the 1908 Summer Olympics also contributed to the early growth of long-distance running and marathoning in the United States.[26][27] Later that year, races around the holiday season including the Empire City Marathon held on New Year's Day 1909 in Yonkers, New York, marked the early running craze referred to as "marathon mania".[28] Following the 1908 Olympics, the first five amateur marathons in New York City were held on days that held special meanings: Thanksgiving Day, the day after Christmas, New Year's Day, Washington's Birthday, and Lincoln's Birthday.[29]

Frank Shorter's victory in the marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics would spur Frank Shorter's victory in the marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics would spur national enthusiasm for the sport more intense than that which followed Hayes' win 64 years earlier.[27] In 2014, an estimated 550,600 runners completed a marathon within the United States.[30] This can be compared to 143,000 in 1980. Today marathons are held all around the world on a nearly weekly basis.[31]

For a long time after the Olympic marathon started, there were no long-distance races, such as the marathon, for women. Although a few women, such as Stamata Revithi in 1896, had run the marathon distance, they were not included in any official results.[32][33] Marie-Louise Ledru has been credited as the first woman to complete a marathon, in 1918.[34][35][36] Violet Piercy has been credited as the first woman to be officially timed in a marathon, in 1926.[32]

Arlene Pieper became the first woman to officially finish a marathon in the United States when she completed the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs, Colorado, in 1959.Arlene Pieper became the first woman to officially finish a marathon in the United States when she completed the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs, Colorado, in 1959.[37][38] Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon "officially" (with a number), in 1967.[39] However, Switzer's entry, which was accepted through an "oversight" in the screening process, was in "flagrant violation of the rules", and she was treated as an interloper once the error was discovered.[40] Bobbi Gibb had completed the Boston race unofficially the previous year (1966),[41] and was later recognized by the race organizers as the women's winner for that year, as well as 1967 and 1968.[42]

Olympic marathon distances

Year Distance
(km) Distance
(miles) 1896 40 24.85 1900 40.26 25.02 1904 40 24.85 1906 41.86 26.01 1908 42.195 26.22 1912 40.2 24.98 1920The length of an Olympic marathon was not precisely fixed at first, but the marathon races in the first few Olympic Games were about 40 kilometres (25 mi),[43] roughly the distance from Marathon to Athens by the longer, flatter route. The exact length depended on the route established for each venue.

1908 Olympics