There had to be someone to blame for putting hundreds of thousands of people through the pain of running a marathon.
For the first evidence, you should rewind to 500BC and Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, who, as legend goes, ran with the news of a battle from the plains of Marathon to the City of Athens, which was just under 25 miles away.
He completed the distance, managed to cough out the word ‘niki’ (meaning victory), collapsed and died immediately – not a great advert for running a marathon. At the first modern Olympics in 1896, officials held a marathon to commemorate Pheidippides’ run. The distance was 24.85 miles and was won by Greek Spiridon Louis in just under three hours.
It wasn’t until 1908, with the London Olympics, that the modern distance of 26.2 miles came into being. Organisers wanted to start the race at Windsor Castle and finish it on the White City stadium, 26 miles away. Afterwards, they added 0.2 miles so that the race could end right in front of the royal family – and so the official distance of the marathon was changed from 24.85 to 26.2 miles.
Now you know who to blame if you’re suffering in the last mile.