This long-distance running race owes its name to the legendary Greek soldier Pheidippides. It’s said that he was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to bring the message to the Senate that the Persians had been defeated at the Battle of Marathon. And having run the entire distance without stopping, he collapsed and died after delivering his message – “We have won!” 
The marathon is one of the original disciplines of the modern International Olympic Games, the first of which was held in 1896 following the formation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894.

Initially the length of the marathon was not set, all athletes simply covered the same distance of about 40 kilometres. The official standard length was first set at 42.195 kilometres or 26 miles 385 yards in 1921. 

Today, over 800 marathons are held across the globe with the vast majority of competitors being purely recreational athletes. City marathons have now become extremely popular and attract many thousands of participants. These marathons are also often used as money-raising events, with competitors of all shapes and sizes dressed as carrots, chickens, rabbits and such like or even merely “wearing” a G-string.

The top five city marathons are Boston, New York City, Chicago, London and Berlin. These make up the biannual World Marathon Majors series. The current (August 2008) world records are held by Ethiopian, Haile Gebrselassie with a time of 2h 4:26 set in Berlin and Britain’s Paula Radcliffe with 2h 15:25 set in London.

The pictures below were taken at the Zurich Marathon, Switzerland.

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