Curse you, Edward VII!
Legend has it that 2505 years ago (490 BCE) the Greek soldier Phidippides ran to Athens from Marathon to announce victory in the eponymous battle over the Persians. The approximately 25-mile mission (the exact distance depends on which route he chose) took its toll on the messenger: he dropped dead after delivering his news. (There’s a t-shirt floating around runner trade-shows that says, “Phidippides had the right idea!”) When the modern Olympic Games created the “marathon” race in 1896, in a nod to ancient grandeur and the hope of future reverence, it set the distance at a rounded 40,000 meters-the equivalent of 24.85 miles. From that point on, things get murky.
While we know for sure that the 1908 London Olympic Marathon was set at 26.2 miles, the reason for this seems to have been lost in the city’s legendary fog. Some say the royal family demanded that the runners not finish at White City Stadium as programmed, but pound the extra pavement it woul…
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