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15 Things you never knew (or may have forgotten) about Marathons

Here's a few things you never knew (or have forgotten) about marathons:


1.  The marathon as an event was created for the very first modern Olympics. Founder of the Modern Olympic Games, Baron de Coubertain, wanted an event to link the modern Games to the ancient Olympics. The legend of Pheidippides was a perfect story to create an event from. The very first marathon was in the inaugural Olympic Games in Athens 1896.


2.  There was NO marathon in the Ancient Greek Olympic Games. Distances for running events were much shorter. Until 1908, Olympic Marathons were of varying distances.


3.  The winner (Frank Lorz, USA) of the St Louis 1904 Olympic marathon was disqualified… for getting a lift some of the way (11 miles!)!


4.  The winner (Dorando Pietri, Italy) of the London 1908 Olympic marathon was also disqualified… for receiving assistance from officials after he fell with the finish line in sight. The USA team appealed, which was upheld and Johnny Hayes (USA) was awarded gold!


5.  South Africa’s Charles Hefferon was in the lead in London 1908, but got stomach cramps after drinking a glass of champagne given to him by a spectator mid-race! He was third across the line and won silver, after Dorando Pietri was DQ’d


6.  Johnny Hayes and Dorando Pietri enjoyed global fame after their famous race in 1908. However, in all of their meetings post 1908 (including professional races at Maddison Square Gardens), Pietri remained unbeaten.


7.  The slowest time ever for winning a men’s Olympic Marathon medal was 3:28:53 (St Louis 1904). You would have podiumed with sub 3:47:33!


8. The Polytechnic Marathon (The Poly Marathon) was London's first Olympic legacy event, and is still Europe's longest running marathon (1909 to 1996)


9. The Poly Marathon had 8 world records set on its course


10. Women were not permitted to run in the Olympic marathon until Los Angeles 1984!


11. London has hosted more marathons than any other city in the world


12. The first London Marathon (1981) had just 7055 starters. The record number of starters is now 42,549


13. London Marathon introduced their first official charity (Sports Aid) in 1984


14. The ballot exceeded 500,000 entries in 2023. The chances of getting a place in ballot are likely to be around 4%


15. There is another way to get into a marathon in London: Original Marathon





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