How The British Royal Family Established The Current Marathon Distance

I just read on british media that on 31st May 2008, the Queen of Britain,Her Majesty Queen Elezabeth II hosted a reception to celebrate centenary of 1908 London Summer Olympics.

It was at 1908 Olympics when the current marathon distance 42k or 26miles was established. The exact distances are  42.195km (26 miles 385 yards)

According to Modern Urban Legend“The marathon at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London was set to measure about 25 miles (40 km) and to start on ‘The Long Walk’ – a magnificent avenue leading up to Windsor Castle in the grounds of Windsor Great Park. The Princess of Wales wanted her children to watch the start of the race, so the start of the race was moved to the east lawn of Windsor Castle, increasing its length to 26 miles (42 km). The race was to finish at the Great White City Stadium in Shepherd’s Bush in London; however, Queen Alexandra insisted on having the best view of the finish; so, in the words of the official Olympic report, “385 yards were run on the cinder track to the finish, below the Royal Box”. The length then became 42.195 km (26 miles 385 yards or 26 7?32 miles)”

Those were the days the British Royal family held some powers. Today the King, the Queen, the Prince and the princes can only look back to those days with nostalgia.

The royal family added colour to the history of the marathon, for that I say “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!”

3 thoughts on “How The British Royal Family Established The Current Marathon Distance

  1. Martin

    This is all very heavily mythologised. The people who planned the 1908 Marathon route, the Polytechnic Harriers, chose Windsor as the start, and they moved the actual line onto the lawn of Windsor Castle to avoid congestion when the 55 runners hit the road. In the Stadium, the royal box was in front of the finish line anyway. Royalty had all sorts of ludicrous powers of patronage, then as now, but setting the distance of a race was not one of them.


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