The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896. The distance did not become standardized until 1921. Later on, in 1983, the distance is also included in the World Athletics Championships. It is the only road race included in both championship competitions.
While traditionally the finish line of a big road race is the stadium, some recent world championships have seen the race conclude in the city center as well. The name Marathon comes from the legend of Philippides.
Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran 26 miles from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to report the defeat of the Persians. After completing his task, he collapsed and died from fatigue after running 150 kilometers back from Sparta the day before.
What is the official distance of the Olympic marathon?
The 40 km marathon was created in 1896 by the organizers of the first modern Olympic Games, which were held in Athens. In the early editions, the race-course ranged from 25 to 26 miles (40 to 42 kilometers), depending on the distance between two locations that the organizers deemed appropriate.
To accommodate children in Windsor's Royal Nursery, the starting line was moved back 385 yards so that it could be viewed by them and still conclude in front of Queen Alexandra at London's White City Stadium. In 1921, the official distance of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km) got standardized.
The Boston Marathon in 1897, Tour de Paris Marathon in 1902, Yonkers Marathon in 1907, and London Polytechnic Marathon in 1909, were all born because of the Olympic marathon's popularity in Western countries. They played a major part in the international growth of road running in the 20th century.