Marathons happen across the country every year with arguably the biggest being the London Marathon which this year takes place on the 13th April. Thousands of people run the London race, coming from across the world, with many running for charity it's a fantastic event to support.
The Marathon is a long-distance running race of 26 miles and 285 yards (although this length didn't become standardised until 1921). The event originally took place to commemorate the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides who was a messenger than ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. The legend states that the messenger was sent from the battlefield to Athens to announce the Persians had been defeated in the battle which took place in 490BC. It is believed he ran the entire length without resting, before bursting into the assembly and announcing 'Niki' which translates to 'victory' before collapsing and dying. Although there has been a debate about the historical accuracy of this story.
When the modern Greek games took place in 1896, the organisers were looking for an event that summed up Ancient Greece and recalled its Ancient glory. This is where the idea of including the Marathon came from. Since the modern game was founded, it became a tradition for the men's Marathon to be the final event of the games finishing inside the stadium in advance of the closing ceremony.
There are 500 Marathon races organised every year, many of which are organised by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, a foundation started in 1982 to bring together over 300 events taking place in 83 countries and territories. Other events taking place are run by charities and local event organisers.
Many people who take place in the Marathon don't actually take part to win. Many runners use the race as a test of endurance, to raise money for charity and to beat their personal best times. First-timers often aim to run the Marathon in less than four hours, whilst the more competitive sportsman aim for a time of fewer than three hours. Typically at most Marathons, there is a cut off time of six hours, after which the roads which had previously been closed are reopened. This doesn't mean that people can't complete the Marathon after this time, but there is less assistance along the route. Larger Marathons will keep the route open for longer, often up to eight hours.
Is your business supporting the Marathon this year? Will you be waving your flags, sponsoring or perhaps providing any customers running with goody bags?