How long is a marathon?


Many people often wonder how long is a marathon? Well with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), a marathon is one of the toughest kinds of road racers there are. Typical road races come in a number of distances 5km, 10km, 15km, 20km, Half-Marathon, 25km, 30km and Marathon.

Putting the Marathon Distance into Perspective


  • The length of 352 Football(Soccer) pitches.
  • 105 laps of a stadium size athletics track (400m average length).
  • 7.2 Laps of the Silverstone formula one track. (Home of the British F1 Grand Prix)
  • 3,516 London red busses end to end.

So.. How long is a Marathon?

Who decided the length of a Marathon?

All of the larger marathons are measured precisely for distance so to qualify for record times and ensure that all the major runners participate. The official IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) rules state that the length of marathon is 42.195 kilometres, plus or minus 42m. This official race distance came originates from the 1908 London Olympic’s and was originally planned to be 40km 536m. After this dates it was decided that the length of a marathon would be unified for all olympics and competitions around the world.

Brief History of the Marathon

History of the Marathon

From the origins of the first modern Olympics in 1896, the organisers and founders of the even were looking for a great popular race to include in the inaugural event. The idea of a marathon race came from Michel Bréal, who wanted the event to feature in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens.

If you want to find out more see out article on the history of the marathon.

Thinking about running a marathon?

Generally, when someone is asking how long is a marathon? Most are considering running a marathon, possibly for a local charity, for the first time.

If your looking for advice on training for your first marathon you should check out our marathon training schedule for beginners.

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