History of The Marathon
The marathon has been in existence for more than 2,500 years The marathons in Leiden, Rotterdam, New York, Athens, Fukuoka, Berlin, etc., all have one thing in common: they all have the same history. For this reason, it is extremely interesting for you as a runner – and in fact almost obligatory – to know exactly how the marathon came into existence. We all know the story of the famous messenger who had to run approximately 42 kilometres in order to relay the message of the victory over the Persians, but there is more to the history of the Marathon than this. The story outlined above is well known. In 490 BC, the Greeks had won a battle against the Persians, and the message had to be relayed to the king. At that time there were no mobile phones, so Pheidippides had to run from the town of Marathon to Athens to relay the news. This is where the name marathon comes from. The official distance of the marathon, 42 kilometres and 195 metres, was established in 1923 and was run for the first time during the Olympic Games of 1908 in London. A course was set out in the British capital which was 42 kilometres long. The finish line was 195 metres from the royal residence. On the day of the marathon, the prince was ill, and they moved the starting line to just under the window of the Royal Nursery in the royal residence in Windsor Castle, so that the prince could watch the marathon from his bed. The finish line was moved to under the Royal Box in the Olympic Stadium, in response to shot putter and American flag carrier Ralph Rose’s refusal to dip the American flag before the Royal Box during the opening ceremony. This historic marathon was won by the American John Hayes, after the Italian Dorando di Desiderio Pietri was disqualified just a few metres before the finish line. He entered the Olympic stadium and had several hundred metres more to run when he collapsed with exhaustion. This happened several more times, until officials decided to carry him to the finish line, as a consequence of which he was disqualified by the race adjudicators.
Origins of the Leiden Marathon
Leiden Marathon, Since 1991 The Leiden Marathon was started by the Leiden Road Runners Club, the first members of which gained their first experience of a marathon in New York. When they returned, they decided to organize their own marathon. The Leideners were so impressed by the atmosphere and organization that they took New York as an example. The first team of 48 runners who went to New York came from 3M Netherlands, and was therefore known as the 3M Marathon Team. The Leiden Road Runners Club was set up as an independent club after the New York trip. The Leiden Road Runners then presented a plan for a local marathon to the management board of 3M. The plan was approved, and 3M sponsored the event for the next 10 years. When – according to the headline in the Leidsch Dagblad – the inhabitants of the city of Leiden and surrounding municipalities ‘embraced’ the very first Leiden Marathon (16 June 1991), it was clear that a wonderful sporting event had been born, which would grow to become a mature marathon.