The Marathon Distance

The marathon distance, as we know it today, is precisely 26 miles and 385 yards. That amounts to 42.195 kilometers. When speaking to a runner who has completed a marathon, it's ok to round up to 42.2 k but it's NOT ok to round down to 42:) That last 200 meters is usually well remembered and definitely earned.

The inception of the marathon itself as well as the actual distance has quite an interesting history and evolution well into the 20th century. The marathon event is inspired by a fabled Greek soldier (messenger) who reportedly ran from Marathon to Athens to announce to the Athenians that the war had been won! He then promptly collapsed to his death gaining instant martyrdom. While there is still some debate amongst hard-core historians even between the heroic endurance hero's name, one thing that is agreed upon is that he ran a very long way for the good of the people. The actual original distance from Marathon to Athens, on what was believed to be his route, was closer to 40 km or just under 25 miles. The distance itself was quite a feat. What seems equally impressive is that he apparently did this buck naked. He probably died from extreme chaffing!

The first marathon event of this distance was run in 1896 and was to be the crowning pinnacle of the Olympic games. It wasn't until the mid 1920s that the official marathon distance as we know it today was established and has remained ever since.

So it was 40km and now it's 42.2 km. Any way you slice it, the marathon is a long and challenging distance and anyone who trains and runs a marathon should be proud of such an accomplishment which earns them the right to correct those who leave out the last 200 meters.

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