When you think about running, a marathon is one of the first things that pop up in the mind. How long is a marathon, do you know? It is easy to say that you will run a marathon, but hard to fulfill the commitment because it is tougher than you imagine.
Why Marathon Is 26.2 Miles?
If you ask a question to any runner or marathon aspirant that how long is a marathon, the straight answer will be its 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers. But only a few know why a marathon is 26.2 miles. A long story! But the same is worth to know. Here, I am decoding all reasons for being so long marathon in two folds, marathon before 1908 and marathon after London Olympics in 1908.
Marathon Before 1908
Before the London Olympics held in 1908, the marathon distance is used to be 24.85 or 25 miles in almost all races. And the reason behind this specific distance of 25 miles was a delivery boy. Yes, it may be quite surprising, but it is all true.
When Greeks won the battle of marathon, a warrior ran from Marathon to Athens for delivering the news that Greeks defeat Persians. The name of the warrior was Pheidippides who ran continuously and died just after revealing this happy news. This distance between both places was approximately 25 miles.
Onwards, in the remembrance of the battle and the great efforts of Pheidippides, Greeks used to hold this run every year. For the very first time around 490 BCE, this tribute was treated as the Marathon.
So now, you must be thinking that how extra 1.25 miles added to the marathon races. Keep engaged, the next story will reveal all.
Marathon After 1908
Marathon distance in the late 19th century appeared inconsistent. Even in the starting Olympic Games, the distance varied between 24 to 26 miles. After 1908, in the London Olympics, a standard marathon distance was codified. The race was run from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium in London for fulfilling the interest of England’s royal family.
However, the race was supposed to be 25 miles only at that time. But royal children wanted to see the beginning of the run. After officials agreed to their demands, the starting line of the race was shifted to Castle Nursery. So, another one mile was added to 25 miles.
Now come to the rest 0.2 miles addition! This extra addition was due to shifting in the finish line of the race. The shift was also because of that royal family. The new finish line was set in front of the viewing box of the royal house. The difference in the initial finish line and the new finish line was 385 yards.
Onwards in London, the marathon races are held in this way only. Gradually, it became a standard marathon distance for all marathon races. However, many runners call this addition of 1.2 miles a curse.