London and Boston Marathons

 The British astronaut Tim Peake (image) broke a record for the “fastest marathon in space”. He ran the London Marathon 400 km (250 miles) above earth on the International Space Station strapped to a treadmill in 3 hours 35 minutes 21 seconds. The previous record was held by the American astronaut Sunita Williams, who ran the Boston Marathon in 2007 and took 4 hours 24 minutes to do so. Peake isn’t the only person who set a world record during the London Marathon which was held on April 24 in London, the capital of the United Kingdom. This year, 31 other Guinness World Records were also set. The London Marathon is known for people trying to set world records during the race. Some of them were for the fastest four-legged marathon, fastest marathon in a two-person costume (horse and jockey), and fastest marathon carrying a hundred pound pack.

Jemima Sumgong (image), of Kenya had a fall, but still managed to win the women’s race with a time of 2:22:58. Eliud Kipchoge (of Kenya) won the men’s race with a time of 2:03:05. The London Marathon is also known for the large sum of money raised for charities by the participants. This year over £23 million (US$33 million) was raised. Over 39,000 runners took part in the race.



The Boston Marathon was held in Boston, USA on April 18. Over 27,000 runners took part in the race. Lemi Berhanu Hayle (of Ethiopia) won the men’s race with a time of 2:12:45, and Atsede Baysa (of Ethiopia) won the women’s race with a time of 2:29:19. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual city marathon and started in 1897.


Both of these races had 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 miles) 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 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 is a video of the London Marathon.

Image Credits: for Peake’s image, for Boston Marathon’s image, for Pheidippides’ image, for the images of the London Marthon’s winners
Sources:, ESA, NASA,,,,,,