Marathons date back to ancient civilization. You might be curious about the brief and interesting history of marathons. You’ve come to the right place! This article will discuss its origin and everything that happened to turn it into a professional affair. Here is the brief and interesting history of marathons.
How it started
This is probably a very familiar story among marathoners. This is an infamous and legendary tale. They say the first marathon happened way back in 490 BC. The stretch ranged from Marathon, Greece to Athens, Greece. This was run by the Greek soldier Pheidippides. He ran about twenty-five miles to deliver the message that the Persians lost to the Greeks. He immediately died after delivering the news due to the stress of running such a long way. Considering that he was in full, heavy armor, his outfit has most likely contributed to his death.
Since then, the Spartathlon was born. This is held every September to commemorate the first marathon. This stretched from Athens to Sparta. That is about 246 kilometers or 153 miles and it goes on for thirty-six hours.
The first official marathon race
It started out as a tradition that later became a professional affair. The first marathon ever commenced during the 1896 Olympic Games. This was held in Athens, Greece. The commissioner laid out a track that stretched from the Marathon Bridge to the Olympic Stadium. The length of the track was about 24.58 miles.
There were twenty-five participants but only nine of them finished the race. The winner was Spiridon Louis who finished the track in 2:58. Of course, the current generation of runners is significantly faster than that. That is achieved with technology, proper diet, and proper exercise.
Why is it 26.2 miles long?
The first race was 24.85 miles so the succeeding marathons followed suit. However, in the 1908 London Olympics, some changes were made. The track ran from Windsor Castle to the White City Stadium. This covers a total of 26 miles. Some changes were made to allow the runners to pass by the royal family’s box in the stadium. A few more yards were added and the standard length became 26.2 miles.
The rise of marathons
Marathon races became globally popular during the 1970s. The sport swept up the world in a frenzy. Events were televised and bets were made.
The Boston Marathon (1972) was the first race to allow women to officially participate. Before that, women participated as bandits who do not go through the registration phase for fear of getting kicked out. Some other women registered under names and aliases that sound like a man’s. The official entry of women into races was truly a revolutionary moment for women everywhere.