Marathon

Melbourne Marathon is on Sunday 13th October

Danny Hawksworth has provided this information.

THE MARATHON – HOW FAR IS THAT?

Until recently, I thought everyone knew how far a marathon was.  Well, maybe not to three decimal places, but at least that it was a bit over 40km.  But it seems most people have no idea.  The exact distance is 42.195km.  Why? You might ask.  It’s a fascinating story.

The Melbourne marathon is taking place on October 13th, 2013.  Starting at Batman Avenue, near the tennis centre, the course makes its way along Flinders St, St. Kilda Rd, around Albert Park and South-bound to the turnaround near Elwood, finally finishing on the hallowed turf of the MCG.

Athletics Essendon has four representatives in the marathon this year – Liam Adams on debut, Tim Dall in his second marathon, Malcolm Wellington and Alastair McDonald. All are looking for their own place in history. Also we will have many assistants at the Essendon drink station capably organised by Lou Citroen.

THE HISTORY

The marathon is a brutal event, and many who start it don’t manage to finish.  So if you live near the ourse, come out and support the runners, who in turn, are doing it to honour the memory of Phidippides.

The legend grew up around a famous battle in 490 B.C., when Athenian troops defeated a large Persian invasion force on the plain of Marathon, about 25 miles from Athens. According to Herodotus, the Athenians sent a military courier named Phidippides (or Pheidippides or Philippides) to request help from Sparta. He covered the distance, about 150 miles, in less than two days.

About 600 years later, the legend arose that Phidippides had been sent to Athens to bring news of the victory at Marathon. After reaching the city, he said, “Rejoice, we
conquer,” and then died of the exertion–or so the story went.

As plans took shape for the first modern Olympics at Athens in 1896, Michele Breal proposed re-enacting Phidippides’ legendary run. He even offered to put up a silver
trophy for the winner.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics, embraced the idea
enthusiastically, as did the Athenian organizers. So a 40-kilometer (24.8-mile)
race called the marathon was the final, climactic event at the 1896 Olympics.

The current official marathon distance of 26 miles, 385 yards was established purely by accident at the 1908 Olympics in London. The course was originally laid out to be 26 miles long from Windsor Castle to the finish line in the stadium. However, it was then decided to add 385 yards so that the race would finish at the royal box. In 1924, Olympic officials formally adopted the distance as official.

The metric conversion of 26 miles, 385 yards is 42.195kms. So when someone says they’ve done a marathon, now you know exactly how far it is.  Our Greek friend all those years ago would have done it in sandals, on pretty tough terrain, with no drink stations or first aid facilities.  So it’s not surprising he “allegedly” died on completion.

Danny with help from http://www.hickoksports.com/history/marathon.shtml