Undiscovered Facts About The Origin Of Standard Marathon Miles

The marathon is one of the most accepted forms of sport all over the world. The popularity of marathon is not limited to any particular sporting event. Many marathon events all over the world offer the chance for many sporting talents. It would be appropriate to say that the marathon is not just any common racing event.

Undiscovered Facts About The Origin Of Standard Marathon Miles


Marathons have gained acclaim and this is seen in the marathons conducted in different cities across the globe. In the following discussion, let us discuss one of the most important factors that make a marathon unique. Many have not thought about the distance in a marathon. So, this piece of information aims to explore further into the origins of marathon miles.

The Uniqueness Of Standard Marathon Miles

Marathons are considered unique because of the length. Most importantly, the distance in marathons is the competitive factor. This is not about running sprints of 100 or 400 meters on the track. On the contrary, a marathon is known for a specific length of the race which can be considered as marathon miles. Regular participants in marathons must know that the total distance of a marathon is 26.2 miles. The story behind this specific distance is equally straightforward and mysterious at the same time.



Interestingly, marathons did not have a standard length and varied from time to time. However, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) set the official standard marathon miles at 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers. The marathons at the Olympics measured different lengths until this decision of the IAAF in 1921. The distance of 26.2 miles is the length of a marathon in the 1908 London Olympics. There is sufficient doubt about the exact reasons for which the IAAF set 26.2 miles as the official length of a marathon.

Different Stories To Confuse

The different accounts of the 1908 Olympic marathon create confusion about the official marathon miles standard. The precision in the measurement of the marathon course is one of the confusing elements. However, it is clear that the marathon started at Windsor Castle and finished at the Olympic Stadium. According to IAAF, the distance of 26 miles at the 1908 Olympic marathon included an extension of 385 yards. The 385 yards resulted due to pulling back the starting line so that children in the Royal Nursery at Windsor can see the event.

Backed By Popularity

Despite the confusion about marathon miles, the 1908 marathon is considered as the most popular marathon of its time. The popularity of the event might have been the reason for IAAF’s decision. Italian marathoner, Dorando Pietri, collapsed due to exhaustion after entering the Olympic Stadium.

Besides that, two race officials helped Pietri to get on his feet. They also helped Pietri cross the finish line and this is highly controversial. However, this decision did not go well with a runner from the US Olympic team, Johnny Hayes. Hayes had come at the second position and he protested the win of Pietri. Eventually, Hayes won the gold medal after the disqualification of Pietri. Interestingly, Pietri received a special cup by Queen Alexandria.

The history and confusion with the official distance of a marathon remains a topic of debate till now.  

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