For spectators watching a marathon, they may not realise what the actual distance is that the participants have to complete. The fans are more intent on what is actually taking place in front of them. Even those standing at the finish line just might not realise how far these runners have come.
As a world-class event, a marathon is deemed to have an official distance of 26 miles. Going back in time, as it relates to marathons, means taking a look at 1896 when the Olympics came back into existence. It was estimated that the marathon route was about 25 miles long and this was used as the distance for marathon races. Although this was not a fixed distance. Throughout the years from 1896 to beyond 1924 there were some variations in the distances as follows:
- 1896: The distance was 24.85 miles (40 km)
- 1900: It was extended slightly to 25.02 miles (40.26 km)
- 1904: It went back to the 24.85 miles
- 1906: It was changed to 26.01 miles (41.86 km)
- 1908: Another extension occurred to 26,01 mi (41.86 km)
- 1912: A reduction to 24.98 miles (40.2 km)
- 1920: An extension to 26.56 miles (42.75 km)
- 1924: A reduction to 26.22 miles (42.195 km)
The formal course is 42.195 km. There is minimal prevention added that can go up to one metre per each KM. This is a risk reduction of setting a distance that is below the formal minimum.
The distances that are used for some of the Auckland Marathons can vary slightly. For example, the average marathon is a distance of 41.44 km. Then there are additional marathons that are run for those who don’t want to participate in a full marathon. These can range from 10 km to 5 km or even less. It will all depend on the event organisers.
It Isn’t Just About the Distance
There are other important factors that have to be taken into account when it comes to the marathons.
The terrain plays an important role in how participants fare during the event. The ground covering, and the altitude is two important factors. Also, flat ground compared to inclines.
The weather is another important component. It can alter the results of the participants, for example, running conditions are much different in hot weather compared to the cooler weather.
A lot of participants really focus on not only the distance but the speed in which they can complete the marathon. Although the most important aspect is the completion of the route.
For those who are just getting started, the distance is going to be the most important factor for them. Ideally, newcomers to marathons should start out with the half marathons or even those with less of a distance. This gives them a chance to experience what a marathon is like without over pushing themselves. The whole idea of the marathons is to have fun. Finishing is important but participating comes first.
For those who are thinking of entering a marathon, they definitely want to know the distance. Then they want to train themselves so they will be able to cover this. Getting physically and mentally fit is a precursor to entering any marathon no matter what its distance may be.