Posted by: mmartininycmarathon | July 30, 2009

Interesting Facts about the Marathon

In this edition of my post, I would like to put out some interesting facts about the Marathon and the elite runners that make up this incredible event.

It was only when I started running and running road races that I began to have a huge appreciation and respect for the distance.


In 490 BCE, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran from Marathon to Athens (about 25 miles) to inform the Athenians the outcome of the battle with invading Persians. The distance was filled with hills and other obstacles; thus Pheidippides arrived in Athens exhausted and with bleeding feet. After telling the townspeople of the Greeks’ success in the battle, Pheidippides fell to the ground dead. In 1896, at the first modern Olympic Games, held a race of approximately the same length in commemoration of Pheidippides.

In 1908, the fixed 26 miles was lengthened an additional .2 miles (385 yards) so that Queen Alexandra could have the best view of the final yards.

The total length of the Marathon (26.2 miles) is equivalent to 50,435 yards… you would need to run the full length of a football field 504.35 times to have done the same distance.

The fastest time for a marathon for MEN is 2 hours 3 minutes and 38 seconds by Patrick Makau of Kenya on September 25th 2011 in the Berlin marathon. For WOMEN it is 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds set by Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain on April 13th 2003 in the London Marathon.

To get an idea of the speed in which they ran their world record Marathons, Makau averaged a 4:44 min per mile pace while Radcliffe averaged a 5:09 min per mile. That is less than it takes to prepare a packet of Minute Rice.

The average human walks at a rate of  3 mph, runs at about 6-7mph and an elite runner will move at a whooping rate of 12 mph over the course of 26.2 miles. Next time you are in a car check the speedometer or on a treadmill, crank it up to the max to feel how fast 12 mph really is (most treadmills won’t even go that fast).

The first NYC Marathon was held in 1970, with 127 competitors running several loops around the Park Drive of Central Park. Only about one-hundred spectators watched Gary Muhrcke win the race in 2:31:38. A total of only 55 runners crossed the finish line.

In 1979, runner Rosie Ruiz of Cuba was accidentally given a finish time of 2:56:29. This qualified her for the 1980 Boston Marathon, where she crossed the finish line with a record time of 2:31:56. It was quickly determined that she had not run the entire course in either race, igniting the most well-known scandal in the history of modern distance running. New York Marathon chief Fred Lebow rescinded Ruiz’s time after determining she had not finished the 1979 race, and officials in Boston quickly followed suit.

During the course of a typical 22 week training period a recreational runner will have run about 612 miles before ever getting to the start line. That is the distance from New York City to Greensboro, North Carolina. An elite runner will have completed the same amount in just under 6 weeks, averaging over 100 miles per week.

I hope you have enjoyed some of these facts and perhaps it will give you a different perspective and insight on the Marathon.

Happy Running!


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