Go the Distance

If you put a marathon sticker on the back of your car, would it be 26.2, 13.1, or 0.0?

For most people, running a marathon falls into one of two categories: Either you do it, or you gawk at those who do it. And recent trends indicate that the first group is gaining traction on the latter. In 2010, more than half a million Americans ran a marathon, according to Running USA, a non-profit organization for the running industry. That’s up from just 25,000 in 1976.

Boys & Girls.

And marathon running is no longer an all-boys club either: Women made up approximately 41 percent of finishers in 2010, four times as many as in 1980. The median age of a marathon finisher in 2010 was 40 for men and 35 for women, according to Running USA. In 1980, the median age for men was just 34 and 31 for women.

Marathons were around 25 miles

Marathons of around 25 miles continued until the London Olympics in 1908. Although the length was originally intended to be 26 miles, with a start at Windsor Castle and the finish at White City Stadium, Queen Alexandra requested the distance be extended 385 yards — or 26.2 miles — to the East Lawn so that the royal children could watch the race from their nursery.

That distance would become the official standard of all marathon competitions in 1924.

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