Why Is A Marathon Called A Marathon?

Why is a marathon called a marathon?

Have you ever wondered, “why is a marathon called a marathon?” It’s named after the Greek city of Marathon; let’s dive in to learn more about this race’s history. 

Are you wondering, “why is a marathon called a marathon?” While the first marathon was in 1896, marathons are named after the city of Marathon in Greece. Legend has it that a Greek soldier ran from Marathon to Athens to share the news of the victory of the Ancient Greeks over the Persians more than 2,000 years ago. 

Who Invented The Marathon?

In 1896, a man named Pierre de Coubertin founded the Olympic Games as we know them today, along with the International Olympic Committee.

Why Is A Marathon Called A Marathon
Athens Olympic Stadium

The first official marathon was held in Athens, Greece. This first marathon was run from Marathon Bridge to the Athens Olympic Stadium. 

This marathon inspired the Boston Marathon, one of the world’s most famous marathons. The first Boston Marathon took place on April 19, 1897. Check out our explainer on how are marathons timed.

How The Marathon Got Its Name

The marathon is named after the town of Marathon, Greece. The legend says that a soldier named Pheidippides ran from a battlefield near the village of Marathon to Athens in the year 490 B.C.

The distance was about 25 miles, and his goal was to announce that Greece had defeated the Persians. Unfortunately, this tragic but brave soldier wasn’t in marathon shape. Because of this, he shouted “Nike” – the Greek word for victory – and collapsed and died. 

You might also be interested in our guides on what to expect on your first 70.3 triathlon and what to bring to a 70.3.

A greek soldier
A soldier ran to announce that Greece had defeated the Persians

FAQs About Why Is A Marathon Called A Marathon

Where Does The Marathon Come From? 

The marathon was created in Athens, Greece, during the 1896 Olympic Games. The man who came up with the idea for the marathon was Pierre de Coubertin. Coubertin founded Modern Olympics and the International Olympic Committee. 

Why Is A Marathon 26.2 Miles And Not 26? 

The first official marathon was 24.85 miles (40,000 meters). However, in the 1908 Olympic Games in London, the course was from Windsor Castle to the stadium at White City, which was approximately 26 miles.
An extra 385 yards was believed to have been added so the finish line would be in front of the viewing box occupied by the royal family. 
As of 2008 (and after 13 years of arguing), the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) decided that the 26.2-mile distance would be the official distance. 

Who Invented The Marathon? 

The marathon was conceived by Pierre de Coubertin in 1896 for the Olympics Games in Greece.