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  • Original Marathon Team

London's newest, oldest marathon

Marathon running in London did not start in 1981 (with the birth of the London Marathon), instead the city has a very long and proud history of marathon running, dating back over 100 years.

The very first marathon in London was the London 1908 Olympic Games Marathon Race - A run that not only made marathon running famous around the world, but also established the distance of marathons - 26.2 miles. The route from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium covered the strange distance of 26.2 miles due to a start within the grounds of Windsor Castle and a finish in the stadium, famously in front of the Royal Box.

Prior to 1908 marathons were of varying distances (24,25, 26 miles), but this famous race in London changed the course of history. The race was famous for the disqualification of Italian Dorando Pietri who led into the stadium, went the wrong way, fell five times, crossed the line first but was disqualified as officials had helped him to his feet. American Johnny Hayes was awarded the gold medal after the US team's compaint against Dorando was upheld.

Huge sympathy from the people of Great Britain led the Queen to award Dorando a special cup in honour of his exploits. The now famous distance of 26.2 miles was established and has been the global standard ever since.

A legacy event was created from the Olympics, with the creation of the Polytechnic Marathon (named as such as the Polytechnic Harriers were the running clb responsible for the course in 1908). This event is STILL the longest running European marathon, running from 1908 to 1996, when it finally ceased due to road closure difficulties and competition from big city marathons.

The Polytechnic Marathon attracted the world's best marathoners and had its heyday in the 1950's and 60's. A total of 8 world records were set on its course.

The Poly (as it was called) changed its route a number of times. It finished at Stamford Bridge (home of Chelsea FC) for a number of years and only ran on the exact 1908 Olympic route 5 times (between 1933 and 1937).

Original Marathon gives runners the opportunity to run the route of the first EVER 26.2 mile marathon on the original course. The first Original Marathon event in 2024 was therefore only the 7th time an event had been held on this famous course (1908, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937 and 2024).

If you'd like to run in the 8th running of this famous route, join us on Saturday 8 March 2025 and 'Run in the footsteps of legends'.

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