A full marathon is officially 26.2 miles, which calculates as 49.19 kilometers. This may seem like a rather odd figure and many people are likely to think that it would be easier if the marathon was a round number such as 25 miles. However, the reason for this set distance is steeped in history and tradition. Here is a brief overview of why a marathon is 26.2 miles:
The first ever marathon that was officially organized was held during the Athens Olympics in 1896. However, the original race is surrounded by legend that dates all the way back to 490 BC. According to legend, the Greek messenger Pheidippides had to run from the battlefield in Marathon all the way to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians.
The distance of this epic run was 25 miles and according to legend as soon as he had delivered the message Pheidippides died of exhaustion. The original footrace was called a marathon in honor of the legend and as a result it also covered 25 miles. The marathon ran from the original site in Marathon to the Olympic Stadium in the city of Athens.
For the next few years the length of the marathon remained unchanged at it was officially forty kilometers, which calculates to just under 25 miles. However, in 1908 the Olympics were held in London and it was decided to set the course to run from Windsor Castle all the way to the Royal Box that was located at White City Stadium. This meant extended the course slightly to the current 26.2 miles and in order to keep the records straight and make it easier for competitors to train the distance of 26.2 miles was standardized in 1921. People who complete 25 miles are sure to curse the extended distance, which is all due to the request of Queen Alexandra.