Marathon Madness

With spring’s arrival comes the start of the Marathons. There are more than 100 organised marathons that take place in a year in the UK alone, with plenty of half marathons to add to that number.

At MedalMad we have plenty of Marathon distance Medals to get you started but before you grab your shoes, we wanted to share some fun and interesting facts about Marathons.


The word marathon has ancient legendary roots: it comes from a long journey taken on foot by the Greek messenger Pheidippides, from the battlefields of Marathon to Athens in 490 BCE. As the story goes, he ran without stopping, announced to the citizens of Athens, “We have won,” and promptly died.

The iconic race’s official length of 26.2 miles wasn’t established until the 20th century. The first organized marathon was run in Athens at the 1896 Olympics, which was the start of the Games’ modern era.

Inspired by the messenger Pheidippides initial Marathons were set to 40Km or 25 miles. It was not until the 1908 games in London that the current distance of 26.2 miles was set. Allegedly the course was extended to accommodate the Royal Family. It has been said that Queen Alexandra requested that the race start on the lawn of Windsor Castle and finish in front of the royal box at the Olympic stadium. This distance happened to be 26.2 miles and stuck, being made the official standardised marathon length in 1921.

The Boston Marathon:

  • The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon, began in 1897 however it wasn’t until 1972 that female competitors were allowed to participate officially.
  • In 1966 23-year-old Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to run and complete the Boston Marathon after hiding in a bush near the marathon start line and disguising herself in a hoodie after she was disqualified from officially entering the race because of her gender
  • In 1967 Katherine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon despite being attacked by the race director who tried to physically pull her out of the race
  • She registered as K.V. Switzer, and because her gender was not clear on the entry form, her official registration was approved after paying a $2 entry fee.

Olympic Marathons:

  • The first Olympic Marathon for women was not held until 1984, Joan Benoit Samuelson, was the first female champion
  • It has become a tradition for the men’s Olympic marathon to be the last event of the athletics calendar, on the final day of the Olympics. This year in the 2024 Paris Olympics is to be closed by the Women’s event, with the route holding significance by following a moment from the French Revolution: The Women’s March on Versailles, on 5 October 1789.

Marathon Majors

Out of all the Marathons held each year only 6 have been included in the World Marathon Majors, considered the best Marathons in the world. Entrants to the Marathon Majors will work to complete all 6 of the Marathons to put them into an exclusive club and earn them the exclusive Six Star Medal. To get the 6 star medal you have to have completed and completed the below marathons

  • Boston – The Oldest running Marathon
  • New York – The biggest Marathon with 50,000 runners
  • London –Where 7 world records have been set
  • Tokyo – The first major in the calendar year, the youngest marathon major course
  • Berlin – Labelled the fastest course in the world, where 12 world records have been set
  • Chicago – Where Brigid Kosgei set the world record holder for women running in a mixed-sex race, with a time of 2:14:04 in 2019 

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