The first Games featured a limited number of events, such as a 180m sprint across the length of the stadium, but have since expanded to encompass at least 12 track events, 8 field events and three events combining track and field components. Most athletes tend to specialise in just one event, aiming to achieve perfection.

In the Ancient Greeks

The first Olympics in ancient Greece go back at least as far as the eighth or ninth century B.C. While such sports as boxing and equestrian events were included, most of the events were those now classified under athletics or track and field. They included running, jumping, discus and the javelin. Those four, plus wrestling, made up the pentathlon. The running events included "stades," which were essentially sprints from one end of the stadium to the other, a distances of about 190 meters; two-stade races; longer-distance races of between seven and 24 stades; and a two- or four-stade race in which the competitors wore armor.

Modern Olympics

Running and other athletic events have long been a part of many cultures, but in the 19th century, such activities were becoming more popular, particularly in Europe and the United States. School curricula included athletics and in 1896, the first Modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece. Events included the 100-meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,500 meters, 110-meter hurdles, pole vault, discus, shot put, javelin, long jump, triple jump and high jump. Fourteen nations were represented.

Contemporary Athletics

After the 1896 Olympics, the popularity of athletics, or rather, a revival of athletic competition, took place around the world. National athletics federations from 17 countries got together to form an international governing body and in 1912, the International Amateur Athletic Federation was born. For many years, the pinnacle of athletics competition was the Summer Olympics. But in the 1970s, more world championships in various events began to take place, helping to maintain interest in track and field every year.

Nowadays Organization

By 2011, nearly 50 outdoor and 25 indoor events fall under the IAAF's authority and rules. Some events, such as the 50-meter sprint, are no longer part of major athletic competitions, but remain part of school programs. Some events have been modified through the years and races of many varying distances are contested every year. In addition to the 42,195 meters of the marathon, there is a 21.1-meter half-marathon. There are men's and women's competitions in almost every event. Men, however, can compete in the 10-event decathlon, while women have the seven-event heptathlon.




Running events up to 10000m in distance are conducted on a 400 m track which is outdoors during summer competition and indoors during the winter. The track is made with a rubber surface to improve grip and lessen the risk of slipping in poor weather conditions. The track is an elongated oval shape, consisting of a semi-circle at either end and two straight segments joining the semi-circles together.
The track is split into six to ten lanes which circle around an inner field used for throwing and jumping events. Each runner is allocated a lane at the beginning of the race, with starting blocks marking the beginning of the race, although whether athletes are required to stay in lane for the duration of the race, depends on the distance being run.
The winner of all races conducted on the track is the first person whose torso crosses the finishing line. If hands, legs, head or feet cross the line before another contestant’s torso a win is not counted. A runner is disqualified from a race if they make two false starts, which are counted if they leave the starting blocks before the starting gun is fired. Running events on the track are split into different categories, distinguished by the distance being run. The categories are: short distance races, middle distance races and long distance races.

The outdoor 100m sprint has traditionally been considered one of the glamour events in athletics. These races are largely based upon the athlete’s ability to accelerate to his or her maximum speed in the quickest time possible. A race requiring explosive power rather than endurance.
Runners in the 100m race remain in assigned lanes. Fastest runners are given the middle lanes of a multi-heat event. Unlike the 200m or 400m races, lane placement isn’t as vital as the 100m lane is straight. While a fast start from the block is important for psychological reasons, runners who have been beaten out of their blocks do have time to recover the lost distance.
Often, the world record holder of the 100m is considered the world’s fastest man or woman. These are the different stages this running goes through:
The Start: Bolt describes how important reaction time is to him, as overall he explains that he generally starts poorly. Even if his first couple of steps aren’t as quick as those around him, a quick reaction to the gun can keep him in the race.
0m – 30m: Drive Phase– Keep your body forward, head down and drive hard.
30m – 50m: Head comes up, lift your posture, run tall and pick your knees up and hold your shoulders down. Continue accelerating to top speed.
50m – 100m: Sprinting at top speed. Bolt describes how he glances left and right at 50m to check his position in the race, and again around 85m.

200m.Each runner’s assigned lanes are staggered in the 200m event to ensure that they run the same distance as they negotiate a curve. 200m.jpgRunners try to remain as close to the inside line as possible but without stepping on it as that would be grounds for disqualification. This is known as the ability to “run a good bend”. Unlike the 100m race which requires pure explosive power, a 200m runner must maintain this speed and have “speed endurance”. A good 200m runner could run a race at an average speed higher than their 100m speed. 
Because runners must negotiate a curve in this event, the competitors’ assigned lanes are staggered, so each runs the same distance. Running a curve is different from dashing down a straight lane: competitors will try to remain as close to the inside line as possible without stepping on the line, with is cause for disqualification. Endurance begins to come into play, as 200-meter runners must not only be fast but must maintain their speed.
Very few high level athletes are capable of mantaining or even improving speed at the last atages.
400m.The 400m race is a sprint around the track in the stadium. Runners are staggered in their starting positions so they run the same distance. While maximum sprint speed is important in this race, athletes also require substantial speed endurance and a high tolerance for pain as they sustain high amounts of lactic acid across the lap.400m.jpg As a testament to how different a 400m race is from a 100m race - 400m race times tend to beconsiderably more than four times a typical 100m time. In addition, it is not uncommon for runners to “come up from behind” and win the race at the final straight.
In the race, after the acceleration phase, it is important for the sprinters to run in as relaxed a mode as possible up to the 250-300m mark, when the lactid acid starts building up. From then on, the aim is to lose as little as possible. The best lanes are 3,4,5 and 6. The bends for the athletes in the inner lanes are tight while those in outer lanes can't see their competitors. The 400m is a lot about sprint endurance and the runners undergo a lot of lactic acid training in order to cope with the last 100m of the race. Maximum sprint speed capability is a significant contributing factor to success in the event, but athletes also require substantial speed endurance and the ability to keep on going fast despite the lack of energy registered in their muscle fibers.

800m. and 1500m.
Both races are considered as middle distances. The 800m. race consists of running two laps on the track.The athletes in the 800m run the first curve in separate lanes and break after 100m to avoid crowding. It's an advantage for an athlete to be drawn in one of the outer lanes as they can choose which position they want to take in the field. The 800m is one of the most tactical races, where speed and ability to handle lactic acid are the most important strengths.
In the 1500m, tenacity and a well-developed sense of strategy are important assets, along with speed and endurance. The third lap becomes the most critical lap and any error from here on may be hard to rectify. Remember that this race consists of 3 laps and 300m round the field.

3000m Steeplechase 5000m 10000m 3000m steeplechase.jpg
These three races are considered as long distance ones. Right on the borderline between middle and longer distances the 3000m (7.5 laps) is a race that requires decent speed, but a lack of natural quickness can be made up for with superior aerobic conditioning and supporting race tactics. It is one of the toughest events for athletes as the barriers constantly interfere with the tempo of running. A 3000m steeplechase comprises 35 barriers, five for each lap with seven water jumps (one per lap). The barriers are 91.4cm high for men and 76.2cm for women. Each water jump is 3.66 metres long and has the same width. The deepest part of it is 70cm and is the closest to the barrier, with the bottom sloping up towards the running level. A lot of athletes place their feet on the water jump barrier so as to provide an extra push over the water. Steeplechase.png

The 5000m includes 12.5 laps of the track. Although this discipline has more of the character of a middle distance, speed is as important a component as in any race.
The event is almost the same length as the dolichos race held at the Ancient Olympic Games, introduced in 720 BCE. While mainly run as an outdoor event, the 5000 m is sometimes run on an indoor track. The International Athletics Federation keeps official records for both outdoor and indoor 5000 m track events.The 10000m is a highly tactical race that entails following the pack for the first 8000m to 9000m.
Invariably athletes leave it to the last lap before they start positioning themselves for the finish.
The 10,000 metres is the longest standard track event.
100m and 110m hurdles
Men and women run over different distances in hurdling, being 100m the women's variant.100m hurdles.jpgIn athletics, a runner races over a series of obstacles called hurdles, which are set a fixed distance apart. There are a total of ten (10) hurdles throughout the race and runners must remain in assigned lanes all the way to the finish line and, although they may knock hurdles down while running over them, a runner who trails a foot or leg alongside a hurdle or knocks it down with a hand is disqualified. The first hurdler to complete the course is the winner. Men, on the other hand, will run over a distance of 110m.
A major improvement in hurdle design was the invention in 1935 of the L-shaped hurdle, replacing the heavier, inverted-T design. In the L-shaped design and its refinement, the curved-L, or rocker hurdle, the base-leg of the L points toward the approaching hurdler. When upset, the hurdle tips down, out of the athlete’s path, instead of tipping up and over as did the inverted-T design.Modern hurdlers use a sprinting style between hurdles and a double-arm forward thrust and exaggerated forward lean while clearing the hurdle. They then bring the trailing leg through at nearly a right angle to the body, which enables them to continue forward without breaking stride after clearing the hurdle. In the 100m, the top part of the hurdle will be at 84cm high, whereas in the 110m race they'll be slightly higher, at 1,067m.

400m hurdlesThis is the longest hurdling event run in the track, and it holds the sam distance for both men and women. 400m hurdles.jpgThe 400m hurdle race is one of the most demanding of all events in the sprint-hurdle group. It requires speed, endurance and hurdling technique all along with unique awareness and special concentration throughout the race.Depending on the height and strength of the athlete, men work toward a stride pattern of 13 to 15 steps between each hurdle, and women work toward a stride pattern of 15 to 17. This does not include the landing step from the previous hurdle.These patterns are ideal because it allows the hurdler to take off from their predominant leg throughout the race without switching legs. However, fatigue from the race will knock athletes of their stride pattern and force runners to switch legs. At an early age, many coaches train their athletes to hurdle with both legs. This is a useful skill to learn beacuse when a runner tires, their stride length may decrease, resulting in the need of either to add an aditional stride, or to take a hurdle on the other leg. The 400 metre hurdles is a very physically demanding race. It requires intense training to get the endurance, speed and technique needed to compete.

RELAYS4X100m and 4x400m4x100m relays.jpgThe relay race most commonly consists of 4 x 100 m sprint with four runners each completing one leg of the race. Contestants are not allowed to change lanes in relay events, with the exception of the three lat runners in the 4x400m race. In the event of any of the runners stepping into any contestant's lane, they will be disqualified. Athletic rules stipulate that contestants must pass a baton to the next runner on completion of their own leg within a marked changeover zone. Should they overrun that zone they will be disqualified as well.
Once the baton is passed, the runner who passed the baton must stay in lane until all other runners pass, to avoid obstructing another contestant. If the baton is dropped, the runner may pick it up without entering any others' lane and should not obstruct other runners when doing so.
The relays races usually take part at the end of the championships, whether they are World level ones or Olympic games.

Introduction To Field Events: Track and field events have a long and rich tradition, and are some of the oldest athletic contests in recorded human history. In 776 BC, at the first Olympic Games in Ancient Greece, there was only one sport – wrestling. Gradually, the Games expanded to include the javelin throw, the long jump and others. By 200 BC, these athletic contests were so popular, there were 4 separate festivals, with participants from neighbouring countries and cities, like Rome (The Panhellenic Games).
In this part, we will examine field events, which take place on a large field, as opposed to the running track. They can be classified as jumping and throwing categories.

Shot Put.In the shot put, you throw a heavy spherical object called the shot (it resembles a cannonball). First, rest the shot close to the neck, and keep it there throughout the motion. Next, release above the height of the shoulder, using only one hand, as far as possible. The shot has to land in the designated zone of the throwing area. The one that lands the furthest, wins. SHOT PUT.jpgThe putting action is best described as shoving the shot, because the rules require that the arm may not extend behind the shoulders during the putting action. The spherical shot is made of metal. The men’s shot weighs 7.26 kg and is 110–130 mm in diameter. Women put a 4-kg shot that is 95–110 mm in diameter.The putter must launch the shot from within a ring 2.135 metres in diameter and so must gather momentum for the put by a rapid twisting movement. Shot-putters are among the largest athletes in track and field, the most massive ranging from (113 to 136 kg). Beginning in the 1950s, weight training became a major part of a shot-putter’s training program. In that same period the O'Brien's style of putting was popularized, with outstanding results. Developed by Parry O'brien (U.S.), the style involved a 180-degree turn (rather than the usual 90-degree turn) across the ring, getting more speed and momentum into the action. O’Brien was the best exponent of the style, winning three Olympic medals (two gold) and raising the record from 17.95 metres to 19.30 metres.Some athletes have turned to a style in which the putter spins one and a half turns before releasing the shot, a technique developed by Brian Oldfield (U.S.).
Hammer Throw 
The hammer throw involves a heavy ball attached to a strong wire. The ball is swung twice in the same spot, legs stationary. Next, you make three or four rotations with your body in a circular motion, with your feet engaged in a heel-toe movement. Then, you release the ball into the designated zone. Whoever can throw the hammer the furthest, wins the event. HAMMER THROW.jpgIn this discipline, a hammer is hurled for distance, using two hands within a throwing circle.Forms of hammer throwing were practiced among the ancient Teutonic tribes at religious festivals honouring the god Thor, and sledgehammer throwing was practiced in 15th- and 16th-century in Scotland and England. Since 1866 the hammer throw has been a regular part of track-and-field competitions In 1875, the weight of the hammer was established at 7.2 kg. and its length at 1,067.5 mm and being thrown from a circle 2.135 metres in diameter.The men’s event has been included in the Olympic Games since 1900; the women’s hammer throw made its Olympic debut in 2000. Hammers require a wire-handled spherical weight. The ball is of solid iron. The handle is spring steel wire, with one end attached to the ball and the other to a rigid two-hand grip by a loop. The throwing circle is protected by a C-shaped cage for the safety of officials and onlookers.In the modern hammer throw technique, a thrower makes three full, quick turns of the body before flinging the weight. Strength, balance, and proper timing are essential. The throw is a failure if the athlete steps on or outside the circle, or if the hammer lands outside a 40° sector marked on the field from the centre of the circle.
Discus Throw
The discus is a heavy disc (like a frisbee) and weighs about 2 kg. You start in a circle 2.5 m in diameter, then spin in a counter-clockwise motion around one and a half times to build momentum, before you release it. Whoever throws it the furthest, will win. There are no form rules about how the discus is to be thrown. DISCUS THROW.jpgDiscus throwing emerged in ancient Greece around 708 B.C., when the sport was added to the 18th Olympiad, says Olympia Greece. Discus was part of the pentathlon, which also included jumping, wrestling, running and javelin. Shaped like a flying saucer, the ancient Greeks made discuses from lead, bronze, iron or stone. The discuses were made in varying weights, depending on whether the competitions consisted of men or boys. The typical discus weighed about 2 to 6 kg and measured approximately 21 to 34 cm.The basic motion is a forehanded sidearm movement. The discus is spun off the index finger or the middle finger of the throwing hand, spinning clockwise when viewed above for a right-handed thrower, and vice-versa. As well as achieving maximum momentum in the discus on throwing, the discus's distance is also determined by the trajectory the thrower imparts, as well as the aerodynamic behaviour of the discus. Generally, one wishes to throw into a moderate headwind to achieve maximum throws. Also, a faster-spinning discus imparts greater gyroscopic stability. The technique of discus throwing is quite difficult to master and needs lots of experience to get right, thus most top throwers are thirty years old or older.
Javelin Throw
The javelin is a spear about 2.5 m in length. You need to run within a predetermined area to build speed, and throw it as far as possible.This contest is unique for two reasons. First, the technique is determined by the IAAF (the International Association of Athletics Federations). The javelin must be held by the grip and thrown overhand, over your shoulder or upper arm. JAVELIN..jpgAlso, you cannot release the javelin and turn, so that your back faces the direction of throw. The runway must be a standard size, 4m wide and 30m long. It must end in a curved arc, from which the throw will be measured.Lastly, the javelin tip must strike the ground before any other part, in the designated zone. Only then is the throw considered valid.the javelin throw remains a spectacle. Unlike other throwing events, athletes do not throw from within a circle, but are permitted to set up the throw with a run-up of up to 4m. When well done, the athlete is the very visage of a warring Greek god. Here’s a basic guide to throwing the javelin.Step 1, Grip: There are three ways to grip a javelin. If you are new to the sport, try all three grips to find what suits you best. Your palm should face upwards with the javelin resting in your palm.Step 2, Prepare for run-up: Hold the javelin above your shoulders. Aim it in the direction of the throw with the tip pointing slightly downward. Your right elbow (assuming you are right-handed) should point forward. Step 3, Run-up: Experienced throwers commonly take 13 to 17 steps. Novices should try shorter run-ups. When running, maintain the position of the javelin. Step 4: Crossover: As you put forth your right foot, your body should tilt back at about 115 degrees. Take two strides, then turn your body so the left hip points toward the target area. Your left leg should cross over your right as you pull the javelin back. Your throwing hand should be horizontal with your shoulders and your arm should be extended and straight. Step 5: Throw: Keeping your sight on the target area, ground your left leg and push off with your other leg. Transfer your weight forward and thrust your throwing arm up and forward. Let loose the javelin when your hand is ahead of the front foot and at its apex. Follow through completely.

In this event, you run down a strip (the same sort of rubberized surface as running tracks), and jump as far as possible from a wooden board 20 cm wide. The board is built flush with the runway, and you leap into a pit filled with finely ground gravel or sand. If you start the leap with any part of the foot past the foul line, the jump is disqualified.
The long jump is the only known jump event in the original ancient Greek pentathlon and was regarded as a challenging sport. Athletes were even provided with weights to increase their momentum as they jump. Today’s long jump is no less demanding than its ancient predecessor.
A good long jumper needs both speed and power. The athlete does a run up, takes off and lands into the sandpit. The athlete with the furthest jump wins. The long jump can be broken down into four phases – the run up, the takeoff, flight and lastly, landing. It is exhilarating to soar through the air while doing a long jump. If fleeting flight sounds like an inviting experience, here is a four-step guide to set you on your way.

Step 1: Run up LONG JUMP.jpg
In the run up phase, strive for consistency and speed. The long jumper gets a huge boost from the run up before the jump. The speed greatly affects the jump distance. The jumper must also take note to jump before the foul line. Otherwise, no matter the distance, the jump would be void.
Expert male jumpers take about 20 strides, while female jumpers take about 16 strides. For the beginner, start with 8 strides. As you approach the jumping board, do not hesitate and slow down. Maintain your velocity - you should be at top speed right before takeoff - and look straight ahead. 

Step 2: Takeoff
Your takeoff leg is the one that stays on the ground to support your weight when you kick a ball. Usually, if you are right-handed, your takeoff leg will be your left leg. When taking off, the aim is to attain height so that you can stay in flight longer and further. Place the foot flat on the ground for takeoff. Taking off heel-first will reduce your speed, while taking off on the toes decreases stability and increases risk of injury. 
Step 3 : Flight
There are a few techniques, namely the sail, the hang, and the hitch-kick. But the hang and hitch-kick techniques are arguably effective only if you can jump further than five metres. The sail is recommended for beginners. To do the sail technique, thrust your free leg in front of your body as long as possible. The takeoff leg will follow suit into the same position of the free leg midflight. Lastly, bring your arms forward, as if you are trying to reach for your toes.
Step 4: Landing
When landing, it is imperative not to fall backwards into the landing pit. Bring your heels up and your head down towards your knees. Jumpers often fall forward or sideways after landing on their heels. Every inch counts.

Triple Jump
Similar to the long jump, you have to run down the track and perform a hop, a bound and then a jump into the sand pit. According to the IAAF rulebook, "the hop shall be made so that an athlete lands first on the same foot as that from which he has taken off; in the step he shall land on the other foot, from which, subsequently, the jump is performed." TRIPLE JUMP.gif
Triple jump, also called hop, step, and jump, event in athletics (track and field) in which an athlete makes a horizontal jump for distance incorporating three distinct, continuous movements—a hop, in which the athlete takes off and lands on the same foot; a step, landing on the other foot; and a jump, landing i

n any manner, usually with both feet together. If a jumper touches ground with a
wrong leg, the jump is disallowed. Other rules are similar to those of the long jump.
The origins of the triple jump are obscure, but it may be related to the ancient children's hopscoch. It has been a modern olympic event since the first Games in 1896; at those Games two hops were used, but one hop was used at the Olympics thereafter. (The standing triple jump was contested only in the 1900 and 1904 Olympics.)
Equipment needed for the triple jump includes a runway and a takeoff board identical to those used in the long jump, except that the board is at least 13 metres from the landing area for men and 11 metres for women.

Pole Vault
In the pole vault, you sprint down a track, plant one end of the pole in the metal box, and catapult yourself over a 4.5m horizontal bar (without knocking it to the ground), release the pole, and fall onto the landing mattress. The pole can be of any length, diameter and made of any material, but the basic rules and technique state that you must not move your hands along the pole when it is upright; you must clear the bar feet first, and twist so that your stomach faces the bar, as you descend.
Pole vault, sport in athletics in which an athlete jumps over an obstacle with the aid of a pole. Originally a practical means of clearing objects, such as ditches, brooks, and fences, pole-vaulting for height became a competitive sport in the mid-19th century. An olympic event for men since the first modern Games in 1896, a pole-vault event for women was added for the 2000 Olympics in Sidney (Australia). pole vault.jpg
In competition, each vaulter is given three chances to clear a specified height. A bar rests on two uprights so that it will fall easily if touched. It is raised progressively until a winner emerges by process of elimination. Ties are broken by a “count back” based on fewest failures at the final height, fewest failures in the whole contest, or fewest attempts throughout the contest. The pole may be of any material: bamboo poles, introduced in 1904, quickly became more popular than heavier wooden poles; glass-fibre became the most effective and popular by the early 1960s. The poles may be of any length or diameter.
A slideway, or box, is sunk into the ground with its back placed directly below the crossbar. The vaulter thrusts the pole into this box upon leaving the ground. A pit at least 5 metres square and filled with soft, cushioning material is provided behind the crossbar for the landing.
Requirements of the athlete include a high degree of coordination, timing, speed, and gymnastic ability. The modern vaulter makes a run of 40 metres while carrying the pole and approaches the takeoff with great speed. As the stride before the spring is completed, the vaulter performs the shift, which consists in advancing the pole toward the slideway and at the same time allowing the lower hand to slip up the pole until it reaches the upper hand, then raising both hands as high above the head as possible before leavingthe ground. The vaulter is thus able to exert the full pulling power of both arms to raise the body and help swing up the legs.
The vaulter plants the pole firmly in the box, and, running off the ground (rather than jumping), the vaulter’s body is left hanging by the hands as long as possible; the quick, catapulting action of the glass-fibre pole makes timing especially important. The legs swing upward and to the side of the pole, and then shoot high above the crossbar. The body twists to face downward. The vaulter’s body travels across the crossbar by “carry”—the forward speed acquired from the run.

High Jump 
high jump 2.jpgThe Olympic high jump is a sport that features fast and flexible athletes leaping tall crossbars in a single bound. The high jump can also be a highly dramatic Olympic event in which two centimeters is often the difference between gold and silver. To do the high jump, you do a short run upleap from one foot over a horizontal bar, and fall onto a cushioned landing area.
Rules for the olympic high jump: Jumpers must take off on one foot; A successful jump is one in which the crossbar remains in place when the jumper has left the landing area; Competitors may begin jumping at any height announced by the chief judge or may pass, at their own discretion; Three consecutive missed jumps, at any height or combination of heights, will eliminate the jumper from competition.


Athletics Events.

The many track and field events are placed in the following categories:


  • Running events include:
    • sprints (100m, 200m, 400m),
    • middle distance (800m, 1500m)
    • long distance (3000m Steeplechase, 5000m, 10,000m)
    • hurdles (110/100m, 400m)
    • relays (4x100m, 4x400m)



  • Jumping events include:
    • Long Jump
    • High Jump
    • Triple Jump
    • Pole Vault.

high jump.jpg


  • Throwing events include:
    • Discus
    • Shot Put
    • Javelin
    • Hammer Throw.


Multiple Events

The Men’s Decathlon and Women’s Heptathlon include a combination of events, held over two days each. Points are awarded for each event and the overall winner is the athlete with the most points.
  • The decathlon includes ten events in the following order, for the first day: 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400m. The second day events are 110m hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin, 1500m.
  • The heptathlon includes seven events in the following order, for the first day: 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m. The second day events are long jump, javelin and 800m.


Walking Events

  • Race walking is a special long-distance race event in which the participants must walk as fast as they can, while they are expected to maintain good form. The competitors are penalized for bending the knee as it passes under the body or having no foot-to-ground contact.
  • The men compete in both 20km and 50km events, women only in the 20km event.


  • The Marathon is a long-distance running event, taking place over a course of 42.195km or (26 miles & 385 yds.) in length.
  • The marathon was originally conceived as a race for the 1896 Olympics in Athens, commemorating the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the momentous message "Niki!" ("victory"), then collapsed and died.
  • The unusual distance is a result of the 1908 Olympic Games in London where the marathon distance was changed to 26 miles to cover the ground from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium, with 385 yards added on so the race could finish in front of royal family's viewing box.