It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Running a marathon generally evokes two emotions in people: on one hand, if you're a runner, it's a sense of extreme pride in yourself while on the other, if you're a watcher, it's a sense of awe at all those who manage to pull it off! All we know for sure is that the onlookers are slowly crossing over to the other side and taking on the marathon challenge.
Today, millions of people run marathons on annually and the number of races has increased exponentially. Taking all of this into account, we're guessing more than half our readers are marathon runners or potential ones at the very least. So we decided to do what we do best and uncover 10 lesser-known facts about marathons:
Fact One: After a little digging around we got to the root of marathons and found out that they orniginated in Greece. Legend has it that upon the Greek victory over the Persians in 490 B.C. a soldier called Pheidippides ran 25 miles from the battlefield in Marathon, Greece, to Athens to deliver the news. After he arrived, Pheidippides yelled out, "Rejoice, we are victorious.” he then collapsed and died. Since then, a marathon was held in every year to commemorate the brave soldier!
Fact Two: The first modern-day Marathon was held in the 1896 Grecian Olympics. It was 24.8 miles long and it saw 17 participants running all the way from the Marathon Bridge to the Olympic Stadium.
Fact Three: A distance of 26.2 miles is the most common and longest standing value attributed to most marathons around the world but few people know why this particular number was chosen.
From 1896 till 1908's London Olympics, marathons of approximately 25 miles were held. The length was originally intended to be 26 miles however Queen Alexandra requested that this distance be extended to 26.2 miles--till the East Lawn of Windsor Castle--so that the royal children could watch the race from their nursery. This distance became the international standard for all marathons in 1924
Fact Four: Both the world's youngest and oldest marathon runners ever are of Indian origin. The former is Budhia Singh, an Indian slum child had run over 48 marathons before the age of 5. He is now 9 and on a quest to be one of the greatest in the world despite massive outrage from Human Rights groups. He's even inspired an HBO documentary called 'Marathon Boy.'
The latter is Canada-based Fauja Singh who became both the oldest and the only centenarian to ever a complete a maraton when he made it to the Toronto Marathon's finishing line at a 100 years of age! His final time was 8 hours, 11 minutes and 5.9 seconds!
Fact Five: 37-year-old Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain holds the prestigious title of being the fastest female marathoner thanks to the record time she set at London's 2003 Marathon (2 hours, 15 minutes, and 25 seconds). She won this particular marathon thrice, the NYC Marathon twice and even took home the grand prize in the Chicago Marathon.
26-year-old Patrick Musyoki of Kenya holds this same honor in the men's category. He set the world record for men at the Berlin Marathon in 2011 where he managed to complete the course in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds. His accomplishments in the half-marathon categories are just as impressive!
Fact Six: When 45,000 men and women finished the NYC Marathon in 2010, it was officially cited as the largest marathon in the world.This race, however, has rather humble origins. It kicked off in 1970 with 127 runners who paid an entry fee of $1 to run several loops through Central Park and only 55 finished. By 1976, organizers switched to the 5-borough race, which attracted over 2,000 runners and slowly but surely, the race snowballed into the massive running bonanza that it is today!
Fact Seven: The Oldest Annual Marathon in the world is none other than the Boston marathon kicked off by the Boston Athletic Association in 1897. Only 15 competitors lined up to run in its inaugural year, but the popularity of this race has increased drastically since! In fact, by 1971 it grew so much that the race mandated that all participants had to complete the 26.2 mile-long race in less that 3 hours 30 minutes to qualify.
Fact Eight: For some people, running 26.2 miles simply wasn't enough and thus the 'Ultramarathon' was born. These are by far the world's most fatiguing--and challenging--marathons. Both the Badwater Ultramarathon and The Marathon of Sands are te toughest races of this kind.
The former is a 135-mile route stretching from California's Death Valley to Mount Whitney and covers 3 mountain ranges. Entry is by invitation only; not that too many people are dying to get invited! The latter is a marathon that stretches over 6 days in the Saharan Africa and covers a distance equivalent of about 6 marathons! Runners must carry their own belongings along the way though food and water are provided. 2011's winner, Rachid El Morabity managed to finish this enduring course in 20 hours, 56 minutes and 19 seconds!
Fact Nine: There are equally exotic marathons around the world as well providing a nice juxtaposition to these ultramarathons. For example, there's one in which participants can run across steps of the Great Wall of China or the North Pole Marathon, which aptly calls itself 'the coolest marathon.' There's also the famed Walt Disney World Marathon that sees participants running through Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, Animal Kingdom Park and more. The best part? Mickey, Minnie and the whole gang are cheering you on the entire way!
Fact Ten: Meet the most eccentric and the most infamous runners in Marathon history. In 2011, Belgian runner, Stefan Engels, ran a marathon every single day of the year, easily bagging the 'most eccentric' title. He was quoted as saying that he considered it more like 'a regular job!'
No finish at a marathon has been quite as notorious as Rosie Ruiz's 1980 finish in the Boston Marathon. After winning the women's competition within 2 hours, 31 minutes and 56 seconds, she was exposed as having only joined the race near the finish line! Naturally, her title was revoked once it was found out that she actually rode the subway to the finish line!
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