How Long Is An Official Marathon

Have you ever wondered just how long is an official marathon? As a sports enthusiast and avid runner, I have always been fascinated by the endurance and determination required to complete a marathon. In this article, I will take you on a journey through the history of marathons and provide you with all the details about the standard distance of this iconic race.

The Origins of the Marathon

The marathon has a rich history that dates back to ancient Greece. According to legend, the marathon originated from the story of Pheidippides, a Greek soldier who ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to deliver news of victory in battle. The distance he covered was approximately 26 miles or 42.195 kilometers – the same distance as a modern marathon.

Since then, marathons have evolved into a global phenomenon, attracting millions of participants and spectators each year. Today, marathons are not only a test of physical endurance but also a celebration of human achievement and a way for individuals to push their limits.

The Standard Distance

An official marathon is measured at a distance of 42.195 kilometers or 26.2 miles. But have you ever wondered why this specific distance was chosen?

The distance of 26.2 miles was first established during the 1908 London Olympic Games. The marathon course was extended by 385 yards to allow the race to start from Windsor Castle and finish in front of the royal box at the Olympic Stadium. This additional distance became the standard for all future marathons.

Course Certification

To ensure accuracy and fairness, the distance of a marathon course is certified by an official governing body, like the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) or the United States Track and Field Association (USATF). The certification process involves measuring the course using a calibrated bicycle, following precise guidelines to account for tangents and elevation changes.

Running a Marathon

Running a marathon is not for the faint-hearted. The physical and mental challenges associated with this demanding race require months of training, dedication, and discipline. Every runner has their own unique journey and motivations for taking on the marathon challenge.

Throughout my own experience with marathons, I have learned that pacing oneself is crucial. It’s important to conserve energy and not start too fast, as the distance can take a toll on the body. Proper hydration and nutrition are also key factors in completing a marathon successfully.


So, to answer the question of how long is an official marathon, the distance is 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers. This iconic race has a rich history rooted in ancient Greece and has since become a global celebration of human endurance. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or someone looking to challenge themselves, running a marathon is an experience like no other. So lace up your running shoes, put in the training, and embrace the journey towards crossing that finish line!