Going the Distance

In the entire world of sports, few events are more challenging than a marathon. It is truly a test of endurance and willpower and takes an extraordinary amount of training. But because it is so difficult, there are few athletic accomplishments as rewarding as completing a marathon.

What Is it?: A marathon is a 26.2 mile race, one of the longest standard competitive races in the world. There are over 800 marathons run worldwide each year, including the famous New York, Boston and Chicago races in the United States and the London, Berlin and Stockholm races in Europe. Some of these races have tens of thousands of participants. They are usually major events in the host cities. Supporters line the city streets and cheer the athletes as they run by. In Boston, Marathon Monday is a holiday, with schools and businesses closed for the day.

History?: According the legend, the origin of the marathon race is pretty cool. In ancient Greece, the Greek army was fighting a battle against the Persians in a town called Marathon. The Greeks won the battle, and the army commander sent a messenger back to the capital city of Athens to announce the victory. The messenger ran all the way there to deliver the news. The distance between Marathon and Athens is 26.2 miles. Nobody knows if this story is true, but it adds an amazing beginning to what has grown into an amazing athletic event.

Training: Because of the extreme amount of endurance it takes to run a marathon, runners train for months leading up to the event. Some athletes run 40 miles a week to get in shape and make sure they have the energy and stamina to make it all the way to the finish line. The fastest marathon runners in the world can finish the race in about two hours and 10 minutes, but most runners are not concerned about time. The challenge of a marathon is to reach the finish line, to earn that reward of knowing that all of that hard work and training paid off.

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