English Language Blog

American Marathons Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Culture

If you like to run, you’ve probably thought about running a marathon some day. Even if you don’t like to run, if you live in a city, you have probably been affected by a marathon (as they often close down streets and disrupt traffic). Today’s post is all about marathons: the history of this amazing sporting event and the most popular marathons in the United States today.

Image by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York on Flickr.com licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Image by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York on Flickr.com licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The idea of the modern-day marathon began in Ancient Greece. This long run was inspired by the legendary run of the ancient Greek soldier Philippides who ran as fast as he could from a place called Marathon to the city of Athens, to share the news of an important Greek war victory in 490 B.C. The distance from Marathon to Athens was approximately 42 kilometers of 26 miles, which is where the distance for the modern-day marathon comes from (a marathon today is exactly 42.195 kilometers or 26.219 miles).

Runners often aspire to run this long distance race and begin months of training before the actual event. In the United States there is at least one marathon race happening every weekend year round. These are very popular sporting events for people to participate in. Of course, some marathons are more famous than others – here are a few of the most famous, and biggest, of the American marathons.

The New York City Marathon – This race is completed by over 50,000 people every year! Not just anyone can run in this race though. You have to do one of the following things to get in: 1) enter a lottery or drawing to get a spot (only about 20% of people who put their names in get a spot this way), 2) raise money and run for a charity, 3) have a qualifying time (this depends on your age, but for men 35-39 it is 2:55:00), or 4) for international runners, be part of a running tourist group. If you do get to run in this race you will run through all five boroughs of the city and be greeted by millions of cheering fans.

The Boston Marathon – This is the oldest consecutively run marathon in the world; it started in 1897. It is run every year on the third Monday of April, which is a holiday in Massachusetts known as Patriot’s Day. Because this race is run on a holiday many people come out to cheer on runners, who wind their way through the city of Boston and it suburbs. To run in this marathon you have to get a qualifying time – there is no lottery for people with less than a qualifying time. Sadly the Boston Marathon is also known for being the site of a terrorist attack in 2013. That year two bombs went off near the finish line of the marathon; hundreds were injured and 3 people killed.

The Marine Corps Marathon – This marathon is run through the nation’s capitol of Washington, DC and surrounding areas.  The Marine Corps Marathon was first run in 1976 and is currently the sixth largest marathon in the United States and the twelve largest in the world. This marathon started as a way to promote goodwill and community between the Marine Corps and the post-Vietnam American public. This marathon also raises money to help injured Marine Corp veterans. Last year over 19,000 people finished this race. It was most recently won by a woman for Costa Rica who completed the race course in 2:45:56.

Even if you never plan to run a marathon in your life, going out to watch one is an amazing experience, especially if you can see one of the huge races like the NYC, Boston, or Marine Corps marathon.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.