Frequently Asked Questions

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When was the first marathon held?

The first race called a "marathon" was held at the first modern Olympic Games in Greece on . The race was inspired by the story of Pheidippides (see following question). This Olympic marathon was 40 km (24.85 miles) from Marathon to Athens. Two trials over the same route had been held earlier so arguably these were the first marathons (March 10, March 24). There was a less difficult 34 km (21 miles) route from Marathon but the Olympic committee likely chose the more difficult route because this distance was close to the then 25-mile de facto standard. The history of 25-mile "pedestrian" racing dates back to the 1700s. In the early 1800s the popularity of these races increased in line with the accuracy of milestones, affordability of pocket watches and gambling. By the mid 1800s 25 miles was a widely accepted distance for racing and time records. Non-professional, amateur racing (open to women) over 25 miles began in the 1870s and in the two decades prior to the first "marathon" the popularity of these races increased in Britain, Europe and North America. After the 1896 Olympics, 40 km / 25-mile races became known as marathons. Marathon de Paris attracted 191 starters just 3 months after the Olympics. A New York marathon was held in September the same year and the inaugural Boston Marathon was held in 1897.

Who was Pheidippides?

The 20th century version of the Pheidippides story tells of an Athenian messenger (from Athens, in modern day Greece) who ran from Marathon to Athens and died after delivering his message that the Athenians had defeated the Persians in battle. In the oldest version of the story, written by a contemporary Greek historian, Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta immediately before the battle but did not die. This Greek historian didn't write about any messenger running from Marathon. In a much later version of the story, written 500 years later by a Roman, is the first written account of Pheidippides running over the mountains from Marathon to Athens. Another Roman embellished this story with Pheidippides dying after delivering his message. The story of Pheidippides and Marathon was widely known as myth before marathons became popular in Australia. Melbourne's Argus newspaper (March 20, 1908) wrote that there was historical evidence of Pheidippides running about 150 miles to Sparta however there was evidence of Pheidippides running from Marathon. The modern Spartathlon race traces the 246 km (153 miles) route Pheidippides is supposed to have run from Athens to Sparta. The route from Marathon to Athens is 34 km (21 miles) over the mountains and 40 km (25 miles) along the coast.

How far is a marathon?

42.195 kilometres (26 miles 385 yards). Standard marathons add a "short course prevention factor" of 0.1% so are actually 42.195 km + 42.195 m. The racing line (usually a painted blue line) is measured exactly 1 metre out from the turns. This means that someone "running the tangents" can run less than 42.195 km, in theory.

Why is a marathon 42.195 km?

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) set 42.195 km (26 miles 385 yards) as the new standard for marathons in . The previous standard was 40.2 km (25 miles) set in . The new standard was based on London Olympic marathon distance. This marathon was measured at "about 26 miles" plus a lap of the track (586 yards) before the finish. Last minute changes led to the lap of the track being shortened to 385 yards so the final distance was 26 miles 385 yards. It wasn't documented why the IAAF reset the standard distance from the popular 40 km to the somewhat arbitrary 42.195 km. One theory is the British faction campaigned the British-headquartered IAAF to adopt the London Olympic marathon distance. This distance had been internationally popular between and but popularity had waned with most nations had reverting back to 40 km with only the British Empire contesting 42.195 km. Another theory is that the International Olympic Committee (IOC), misled by a Greek delegate, was informed the route from Marathon was "about 26 miles" (1896 was 40 km and 1906 was 41.775 km). The IOC may have used their (overwhelming) influence to set a standard close to what they thought was the original Olympic distance. The majority of marathons continued at 40 km until after WW2 (after ).

How is a marathon measured?

The most common and most precise measurement for marathons is with a calibrated bicycle. The wheel circumference of a regular bicycle is carefully measured and the bicycle is ridden over the proposed course, starting from the finish line. Measurement follows a strict procedure documented by Association of International Marathons (AIMS).


Who was the first Australian to run in a marathon?

Edwin Flack started in the first marathon in but became delirious at 37 km (of 40 km) and did not finish. George Blake was the first Australian to finish a marathon at the Olympics on . He traversed the first 10 km (of 42 km) in just over 30 minutes and held the lead until 25 km when cramps set in. Blake walked to finish 6th in . Australia had a history of long-distance racing prior to the first marathon. One such 25-mile (40 km) race promoted as the Championship of the Colonies was held in Adelaide in and won by T. Shepherd in .

Who was the first Australian to run a 42.195 km marathon?

Australians Victor Aitken, George Blake and Joseph Lynch started in the very first 42.195 km marathon in London but none finished. Sydneysider Andrew Sime (see next question) was the first Australian to finish a 42.195 km marathon. Sydneysider Therese McKillop née Bell was the first Australian woman to finish a marathon in . She finished at Hensley Field in Sydney after . Tess Bell had previously won City to Surf race and she's active today with Randwick Botany Harriers.

When was the first marathon held in Australia?

The first marathon held in Australia was by Thompson Estate Harriers on . Their marathon was the (then) standard 40 km starting from Ipswich and finishing at the Norman Hotel in Brisbane and was won by Daniel Laing in . The catalyst for the Harriers was probably widespread newspaper reports about the Olympic marathon in Athens and interviews with the Australian finisher George Blake.

When was the first 42.195 km marathon held in Australia?

The first 42.195 km marathon in Australia (and first in Oceania) started and finished at the Sydney Cricket Ground on . Andrew Sime was first of 31 men in . Sime was a plumber who lived in Sydney's beachside suburb of Coogee. He placed 3rd in the next marathon in Brisbane, won two subsequent marathons in Melbourne and Sydney, and then took up surfing.


How many marathons were held ?

in Australia there were 47 on-road and 32 off-road (trail) marathon events. Six events included multiple marathon races including Cairns' Three marathons in three days.

How many finished in marathons ?

About 20-thousand runners finish at least one marathon each year. Finishing times for 16,075 males and 7,464 females were recorded . 1 in 3 finishers were women, up from 1 in 4 finishers .

What is the largest marathon?

Melbourne Marathon set the record for Australia's largest marathon in with over 7,000 starters and 6,820 finishers. Melbourne recorded 6,054 finishers. Gold Coast Marathon and Sydney Marathon were second and third largest with 5,282 and 3,273 finishers, respectively.

What is the fastest and flattest marathon?

Gold Coast Marathon is where the fastest times have been set for many years. The Gold Coast course is pancake-flat and the weather is rarely unfavourable to runners. It's the only course in Australia acceptable for marathon and intermediate-distance world records. Marathons such as Melbourne, Perth and Townsville are almost as flat and may legitimately claim to being the fastest.

Who is the fastest male marathon runner?

Gold Coast runner Michael Shelley was the fastest man. He finished 12th at the London Marathon in and qualified for Rio Olympics. Steve Moneghetti is the fastest Australian man of all-time in a standard marathon. He won the Berlin Marathon in .

Who is the fastest female marathon runner?

Adelaide runner Jessica Trengove was the fastest woman. She won the Melbourne Marathon in and qualified for Rio Olympics. Benita Willis is the fastest Australian woman of all-time. She finished 3rd at the Chicago Marathon in .

Who is the youngest marathon runner?

The youngest Australian to finish a marathon was aged 6. He ran with his father many years before there was a minimum age for entrants. The youngest finisher was aged 12.

Who is the oldest marathon runner?

The oldest Australian man to finish was 87-year-old Antony Martin at Melbourne Marathon in . The oldest Australian woman to finish was 81-year-old Norma Wallett at Sydney Marathon in .

What are the best times for age?

Scott Westcott became the fastest Australian man aged 40-44 by finishing at Berlin Marathon in . Lavinia Petrie became the fastest Australian woman aged 70-74 by finishing at Wangaratta Marathon in . See Best times for age for a complete list.

What are the average ages of marathon runners?

The average ages in Australian marathons are 39 for males and 37 for females. The averages for both sexes are increasing.


How long does it take to run a marathon?

The average (median) finish time on road courses was for men and for women. Most marathons in Australia have a cut-off time of making it possible to walk the distance in time.

How to estimate your marathon time?

The best estimate of your marathon time is found by racing at shorter distances and extrapolating shorter-distance time to marathon time. A simple rule to estimate your time is if you double the distance then double your time plus 10 percent. For example a half-marathon in is equivalent to a marathon in . Equivalent pace calculators are based on real runners and offer a more accurate estimate than the simple rule.

How much training does it take to run a marathon?

If you're already reasonably fit then you can finish a marathon after following a 3-month structured training plan (a medical checkup is strongly recommended before commencing training). It's often better to allow a year of training because injury setbacks and other life disruptions are pretty common. To be competitive in a marathon can take up to 3 years of consistent and disciplined training and up to 7 years to reach your peak.

How are marathons timed?

The vast majority of marathons in Australia are electronically timed. A timing chip is either tied to a runner's shoe laces or it's attached to a runner's race number. The official time (also known as gun time) is measured from when the starting gun fires until a runner crosses the finish line. An unofficial time (also known as net time or chip time) is measured from when a runner crosses the start line until they cross the finish line.

What are marathon splits?

Split times are intermediate times measured within the race usually at halfway and sometimes at shorter intervals such as every 5 km. An even split means a runner ran the first half in the same time as the second half. A positive (negative) split means a runner ran the first half in a faster (slower) time than the second half.

What are marathon pace runners?

Marathon pace runners (pacers or "rabbits") are experienced runners who aim to run at a constant pace for part or all of the race. Their purpose is to aid the runners competing in estimating their own pace and estimating their finish time. Pace runners are made visible with balloons or flags and they typically pace to finish times such as , , or .

What are Spartans, Griffins and Warriors?

Spartans are runners who have finished the Melbourne Marathon at least 10 times. Griffins have finished the Canberra Marathon at least 10 times. Warriors have finished the Adelaide Marathon at least 10 times.

What marathons are Boston qualifiers (BQ)?

The requirement for Boston Marathon qualification is to run a qualifying time on an IAAF-AIMS certified course. There are 19 such marathon courses in Australia. Capital city marathons in all states and territories, except Hobart, are accepted.

What does DNS mean?

Did not start. A runner entered but did not start a race.

What does DNF mean?

Did not finish. A runner started but did not finish a race.

What does DQ or DSQ mean?

Disqualified. A runner was disqualified from a race. There are many types of disqualification. For example a runner may have cut corners and not complete the entire 42.195 km. Another example i s a runner may be disqualified for receiving assistance (even if they didn't seek assistance).