London has a strong claim to have hosted the most marathons of any city in the world!
Athens may have recorded the first (Athens 1896 Olympic Games), and Boston may have been the first to emulate the success of Athens with a legacy event that is still running - the Boston Marathon in 1897. The London Marathon did not start until almost a century later, but London also has a proud history of marathons stretching back into the early 20th century:
1907 - The first marathon in London was actually a test event for the London 1908 Olympic Games. It was organised by the Polytechnic Harriers, who later managed the Olympic Marathon the following year. This event could not finish at the White City Stadium, as it was under construction, but instead finished at Wembley Stadium.
1908 - the famous race that set the marathon distance and brought marathon running to the attention of the world. See more about the 1908 Olympic Marathon here.
1909 - 1914 - The Polytechnic Marathon was the legacy event of the 1908 Olympic Games and was successfully run until World War I broke out.
1919 - 1974 - The Polytechnic Marathon continued, even during WWII. The heyday of the race was in the 50's and 60's. Although it took a break in 1975
1934 - The 1934 Commonwealth Games served up a marathon for the capital.
1976 - 1987 - The Poly Marathon returns
1992 - 1996 - The Poly Marathon returns again! But sadly with competition from London Marathon and a changing route with traffic issues, the event hangs up its running shoes.
1980 - The Avon International Women's Marathon ran on 3 August 1980 between Battersea Park and Guildhall. It was part of an international movement to convince the IOC that a women's should be included in teh Olympic schedule - something that finally happened in LA1984.
1981 - present day - The London Marathon started in 1981 and has since clocked up over £1Billion in fundraising!
2012 - London 2012 Olympic Marathons
2017 - World Championships
And now in 2024, to complete the circle, the Original Marathon is recreating the famous race of 1908 between Windsor and White City. Come celebrate the history and heritage of London's marathons and run in the footsteps of legends.
So, as you can see London really can claim to have the most marathons of any city