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Marathon for Men at Olympics

Marathon for Men at Olympics: The marathon is a running event of the length of 42.195 kilometer or 26 mile 385 yards. The event is generally considered to be the road event. The name of the event has been derived from the legend of Pheidippides of Greece. Pheidippides was a Greek soldier, who became a legend when he ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the news of the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. The myth is that, Pheidippides ran all the way from Marathon to Athens without resting and after delivering the news, he died of exhaustion. Though there is no historical record of the event, the myth is much believed by the Greeks.

Michel Breal of France proposed to include the marathon race in the schedule of the first modern Summer Games in 1896. Pierre de Coubertin accepted the proposal and the event was introduced at the 1896 Athens Summer Games. The Greeks arranged for a selection race before the Summer Games. There, the first Olympic race was won by Charilaos Vasilakos.

The International Olympic Committee measured the distance between Marathon and Athens to be 34.5 kilometer or 21.4 miles. The distance covered in the Olympic marathon race was not predetermined. The length of the event was determined by the length of the route selected for the race, which varied from venue to venue. In 1921, the distance of the marathon race was fixed at 42.195 kilometer or 26 mile 385 yards by the International Amateur Athletic Federation or IAAF. Now, there are more than 800 marathon races held in different countries all over the world. Some of the major marathon races are held in New York City, Chicago, London, Boston, Berlin, Washington D.C., Honolulu, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome. The start of the marathon race is generally a mass start. However, at some races, the format of wave start is used.

The marathon is essentially a long distance running event. Participating in the marathon is quite taxing on the part of the athletes. The runners have to be extremely well conditioned to sustain the hardship of the long run. The tactics followed by the athletes during the marathon may vary from man to man. Some athletes start a little faster than their usual speed to gain advantage over their competitors. However, a slow and steady pace is more effective to win the race. There are many performance enhancing gels and drugs, which are used by the athletes during the event. The consumption of water is often restricted during the race.

Marathon for Men in Summer Olympics: The marathon for men was introduced to the Olympic schedule at the 1896 Athens Summer Games. The Olympic marathon is held at the end of the track and field athletics competition. The event is finished inside the stadium. The event has been held in every Olympics after the 1896 Games.

Rules for Marathon for Men at Olympics: The International Association of Athletics Federations or IAAF is authorized to set rules for the track and field events. The rules set for the Marathon at the international competitions are-

  • The marathon should be run on made up road. The athletes are not permitted to run on soft or grassy lands.
  • The starting and finishing points of the marathon are properly and distinctively marked.
  • The distance of the route in kilometer has to be informed to the athletes during the race.
  • Different stages of the race have to be well marked for the convenience of the runners.
  • The athletes are given a warning five minutes prior to the onset of the race.
  • An athlete competing in the marathon is bound to leave the race if ordered by an official medical staff.
  • Runners are not allowed to take refreshment at places not specified by the organizing committee as the refreshment station. In such case, the athlete is liable to disqualification from the race.
  • During the marathon, an athlete is allowed to leave the road with prior permission of a judge. Even after leaving the road, the athlete has to be under supervision of the judge, so that he cannot take any short cut route.
  • The athlete, who is unable to finish the race, is not given any credit for his performance.
  • The automatic timing device used for measuring the time during the races has to be approved by the IAAF.
  • Medal Winners in the Marathon for Men: The Ethiopian athletes have been the leading figures in the marathon competitions held through out the history of the event. Some of the important marathon runners in the history are Abel Antón, Stefano Baldini, Abebe Bikila, Bob Busquaert, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, Waldemar Cierpinski, Derek Clayton, Martín Fiz, Bruce Fordyce, Haile Gebrselassie, Juma Ikangaa, Steve Jones, Khalid Khannouchi, Hannes Kolehmainen, Tom Longboat, Carlos Lopes, Spiridon Louis, Julio Rey, Bill Rodgers, Evans Rutto, Alberto Salazar, Toshihiko Seko, Frank Shorter, Albin Stenroos, Paul Tergat, Ed Whitlock, Geri Winkler, Emil Zátopek, Gezahegne Abera, Josia Thugwane, Hwang Young-Cho, Gelindo Bordin and Mamo Wolde.

    Trivia: During the 1908 London Summer Games, a distance of 385 yards was added to the actual length of marathon, which was 26 miles, just to finish the race in front of the royal family's viewing box.

    At the 1896 Athens Summer Games Spiridon Belokas of Greece rode part of the distance covered in the race by a cart.

    In the 1900 Paris Summer Games, Fred Lorz, the marathon runner covered 11 miles in a car. In spite of that, he was awarded with the Olympic marathon title.

    In the 1908 London Summer Games, Dorando Pietri of Italy was assisted to cross the finishing line during the marathon. He was declared the winner of the event. However, later he was disqualified and Johnny Hayes of the United States of America was given the title.

    At the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, the first causality in the history of marathon took place. Francisco Lazaro of Portugal collapsed during the race. Next day he died at the hospital.

    In the 1960 Rome Summer Games, the Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila won the Olympic marathon title running barefoot. In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, he became the first person who successfully defended the marathon title. The only other athlete to achieve the goal is Waldemar Cierpinski of East Germany.

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