‘Tis the season for marathons

People ran in some very famous annual marathon races around the globe. The world’s “coolest” marathon took place at the North Pole on April 9. Petr Vabrousek (of Czech Republic) won the men’s competition with a time of 4:22:24. Heather Hawkins (of Australia) won the women’s competition with a time of 6:57:39. With temperatures around -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit), it was a very difficult race to run. Forty-four participants from 22 nations flew to the North Pole for this race. There is no land at the North Pole. People run on a frozen ice sheet (about 6 to 12 feet thick) floating on top of 12,000 feet of water (the Arctic Ocean).

On April 12, over 40,000 people took part in the Paris Marathon held in Paris, the capital of France. Mark Korir (from Kenya) won the men’s race with a time of 2:05:48. Meseret Mengistu (from Ethiopia) won the women’s race with a time of 2:23:26. This marathon is known for the various musical shows along the race route. A Gambian woman ran with a container of water on her head. She wanted to raise awareness for water shortages in her country.

The Boston Marathon was held in Boston, USA on April 20. Over 30,000 runners took part in the race. Lelisa Desisa Benti (of Ethiopia) won the men’s race with a time of 2:09:17, and Caroline Rotich (of Kenya) won the women’s race with a time of 2:24:55. We always talk about the people who came first, but what about the person who came last? Maickel Melamed (of Venezuela) took about 20 hours to finish the race. He has a medical issue with weakening muscles and has problems walking. Many folks cheered for him as he finished the race. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual city marathon and started over a hundred years ago in 1897.

Another famous marathon is coming up. The London Marathon will be held in London, United Kingdom on April  26.

All four of these races have a running 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 marathon distance of the 1908 Olympics, which were held in London, UK. In those Olympics, the race had started at a castle called Windsor and finished in front of where the country’s royals sat in the Olympic stadium, an exact distance of 42.195 km.

Here are five videos – the Paris Marathon, the lady with the container on her head, the North Pole Marathon, the men’s Boston Marathon winner, and the women’s Boston Marathon winner.


Did you know?

One of the hardest running races in the world is the Marathon des Sables (MdS), also known as the Marathon of the Sands. It is held annually in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. It is a six day race that covers a distance of about 250 kilometers (150 miles). Temperatures can be as high as 50 degrees Celsius or 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The 2015 race recently took place. Here is a video about it.

Image Credits: http://www.npmarathon.com/ for the North Pole Marathon images, http://www.waterforafrica.org.uk/ for the image of the lady carrying water, http://www.baa.org for the Boston Marathon image, Hammer of the Gods27 for Pheidippides’ image
Sources: http://www.npmarathon.com/, http://www.irishexaminer.com/, http://www.euronews.com/, http://www.waterforafrica.org.uk/, http://www.schneiderelectricparismarathon.com/, http://www.baa.org/, http://www.pbs.org/, http://aimsworldrunning.org/, http://watchlive.baa.org/, http://www.wcvb.com/, http://www.history.com/, http://www.marathondessables.com/, http://www.marathondessables.co.uk/