Most Popular Marathons
A marathon is a long-distance foot race with a standard, official distance of 26 miles and 385 yards (i.e. 42.195 kilometers), and its usually run as a road race.
Madison’s own Marathon is a perfect chance to get to know the city; you’ll see Capitol Square, the University, the Arboretum and finally the good ol’ Brat Fest. Up until 2006, it was known as the Mad City Marathon (hence our website name), but the Marathon’s organizers went back to the original (and, in our opinion, less exciting) name. Check out www.madisonfestivals.com for more information. And don’t worry about packing your snow boots; it takes place during one of Wisconsin’s rare periods of warm weather!
The term “marathon” commemorates the fabled run of Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger, who it’s said made a famous run after a battle from Marathon to Athens, the distance of which is – you’ve guessed it – approximately 26 miles and 385 yards (i.e. 42.195 kilometers). In 1896, the marathon became one of the original Olympic events, but the distances itself didn’t become standardized until twenty five years later, in 1921. The idea of organizing an Olympic marathon race came from Michel Breal, who pushed hard to include the event in the first Olympic Games in 1896 which took place in Athens. Luckily, Breal received much support from Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, and the rest is – well – history.
The first Olympic Marathon winner was Spiridon “Spiros” Louis, who won the race in 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds. We have to flash forward quite a bit – to the 1984 Summer Olympics – before the women’s marathon was introduced in the Olympics. This first Olympic women’s race was won by Joan Benoit of the United States and her time was 2 hours 24 minutes and 52 seconds.
Typically, the Olympic marathon is reserved as the Olympic’s final event, oftentimes with a finish inside the Olympic stadium and sometimes even incorporated into the closing ceremonies.
There are now over 800 major marathons taking place throughout the world each year, and the largest, most attended of them can have tens of thousands of participants.