Total Pageviews

Friday, January 1, 2010

How the Marathon became 26.2 miles

Ever wondered why the marathon distance is 26.2 miles (or 42.195 kms)?

Originally the marathon distance was around 25 miles (or 40kms).

But for the 1908 London Olympics, it ended up being 26.2 miles.
Here's a brief summary I found on wikipedia:

For the official Trial Marathon on 25 April 1908, the start was on ‘The Long Walk’ – a magnificent avenue leading up to Windsor Castle. For the Olympic Marathon itself the start was on the private East Terrace of Windsor Castle, with the permission of King Edward VII, so that the public would not interfere with the start. Shortly before the Games opened it was realized that the Royal Entrance could not be used as the marathon entrance—it was raised to permit easy descent by the royal party from their carriages, and did not open onto the track—so an alternative entrance was chosen, diagonally opposite the Royal Box. A special path was made just outside the Franco British Exhibition ground so that the distance to the stadium remained 26 miles.

The finishing line was left unchanged, but in order that the spectators, including Queen Alexandra, could have the best view of the final yards, the direction of running was changed to "right-hand inside" (i.e. clockwise) and the total distance became 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 km).

Why the history lesson?

Gabby and I recently went to Windsor, and of course, as a runner (and especially for Gabby as a marathon finisher), it wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Long Walk. For those of you who run marathons, as you run past the 26 mile marker and curse as you run another 0.2 miles, you now know it was all so that the royal family could get the best view.


Gabrielle said...

I have to mention that our wedding date is also April 25, 102 years after the original long walk, and that's when we will be starting our own long walk...through our life together. Yes, you can now gag.

ME said...

Great story! Yet another reason to hate monarchs! "Oh, I dont have the best view. Make them run farther. Oh, I missed the photo finish. Make them run it again!"