People ran in two very famous annual marathon races around the globe. The world’s “coolest” marathon took place at the North Pole on April 9.  Gary Thornton (from Ireland) won the men’s competition with a time of  3 hours 49 minutes 29 seconds (3:49:29), and Fiona Oakes (from the United Kingdom) won the female competition with a time of 4:53:10. With temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit), it was a very difficult race to run. Forty-six people flew to the North Pole and participated in this race. There is no land at the North Pole. People run on a frozen ice sheet (about  6 – 12 feet thick) floating on top of water (the Arctic Ocean).  This marathon was first held in 2002.

The Boston Marathon was held in Boston, USA on April 15. Over 23,000 runners took part in the race. Lelisa Desisa Benti (from Ethiopia) won the men’s race with a time of 2:10:22, and Rita Jeptoo (from Kenya) won the women’s race with a time of 2:26:25. The race ended with a tragedy. Two bombs went off near the finish line injuring some people. The United States police force is trying to figure out who was responsible for the bombs. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual city marathon and started over a hundred years ago in 1897.

Both the races have a regular marathon run distance of 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles).  Why is this the distance? Well, the answer takes us back to the year 490 BC when there was a battle going on between the Greeks and the Persians in the Greek town of Marathon. The legend is that there was a messenger named Pheidippides who was sent from Marathon to Athens (now the capital of Greece) to announce that the Greeks had won the battle. Pheidippides ran the whole way, announced the message, fell over, and died. The distance he ran was about 40 km (25 m) long. The modern Olympic Games were first held in 1896 in Greece. A racing event was added to honor the legend of Pheidippides and was given the name “marathon”. The distance of the marathon race was not fixed and the approximate distance of 40 km was used in the marathon races until 1921. This is when the organizers of the Olympics decided to use the 1908 Olympics marathon race’s distance. In the 1908 Olympics, which were held in London in the UK, the marathon race was held from a famous castle called the Windsor Castle to where Queen Alexandra (of the United Kingdom) was sitting in the White City Stadium, an exact distance of 42.195 km.

Here is a video of the North Pole Marathon 2013.

Image Credits: for the North Pole Marathon’s image, Hammer of the Gods27 for Pheidippides’ image