A marathon is a long-distance running race with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres, or approximately 26.219 miles.

The standard marathon distance was established by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and is widely used around the world as the official marathon distance.

When was the first marathon?

The first marathon in history was believed to have been run in 490 BCE during the Battle of Marathon, which was part of the Greco-Persian Wars. The Battle of Marathon was held in the city named Marathon, located in Greece. This event is the origin of the modern marathon race.

The first marathon, as the story goes, involved a Greek messenger named Pheidippides running from the town of Marathon to Athens, a distance of approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles), to deliver the news of the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. Upon delivering the message, he is said to have exclaimed "Nenikēkamen!" (νενικήκαμεν), meaning "we have won," before collapsing and dying from exhaustion.

Although this is known as the origin, the story is not necessarily accurate, however, it is the inspiration for the modern marathon race, and the first organised marathon races were held in the late 19th century to commemorate the legendary run Pheidippides undertook. 

The official marathon distance of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 miles) was established during the 1908 London Olympics and has since become the standard for marathon races worldwide.

What is the oldest marathon in Australia?

The Traralgon Marathon was established in 1958 and is known as the oldest continuously run marathon in Australia. The race is organised by the Traralgon Harriers Athletic Club and while the course has altered over the years, the run in the Gippsland region of Victoria continues to attract a field of runners from around the country.

Marathon World Records

The world record for the marathon distance is currently 2:01:09 – held by Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya. The record was set in Berlin, Germany on 25th September, 2022.

The female world record for the marathon distance is currently 2:14:04 – held by Brigid Kosgei from Kenya. The record was set in Chicago, USA on 13th October, 2019.


Photo by Ben Stern on Unsplash