The Marathon

The start to the London Marathon
The marathon is a long-distance foot race with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), that is usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon on the Greek coast to Athens.
The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. The women's marathon was introduced at the 1984 Summer Olympics (Los Angeles, USA) and was won by Joan Benoit of the United States with a time of 2 hours 24 minutes and 52 seconds.
Since the modern games were founded, it has become a tradition for the men's Olympic marathon to be the last event of the athletics calendar, with a finish inside the Olympic stadium, often within hours of, or even incorporated into, the closing ceremonies. The marathon of the 2004 Summer Olympics revived the traditional route from Marathon to Athens, ending at Panathinaiko Stadium, the venue for the 1896 Summer Olympics.
More than 500 marathons are contested throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors, which often run into the tens of thousands,  being recreational athletes.  The prestigious marathons at Boston, New York City, Chicago, London, and Berlin form the biennial World Marathon Majors series, run by the IAAF, awarding $500,000 annually to the best overall male and female performers in the series. GSN tracks performances in these five marathons, arguably the most important ones on the calendar for both professional and amateur athletes.
Other popular marathons include the Amsterdam, Honolulu, Paris, Rotterdam, and Stockholm marathons, the United States Marine Corps Marathon, the Los Angeles, and Rome marathons. The oldest annual marathon in Europe is the Košice Peace Marathon, held since 1924 in Košice, Slovakia.
One of the more unusual marathons is the Midnight Sun Marathon held in Tromsø, Norway at 70 degrees north. Among other unusual marathons are The Great Wall Marathon on The Great Wall of China, The Big Five Marathon among the safari wildlife of South Africa, The Great Tibetan Marathon - a marathon in an atmosphere of Tibetan Buddhism at an altitude of 3,500 metres (11,500 ft), and The Polar Circle Marathon on the permanent ice cap of Greenland in -15 degrees Celsius/+5 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures.
Other particularly scenic marathon routes are: Steamboat Marathon, Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Mayor's Marathon, Anchorage, Alaska; Kona Marathon, Keauhou/Kona, Hawaii; San Francisco Marathon, San Francisco, California; the  Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon, the only marathon where participants run over two continents, Europe and Asia, during the course of a single event.