Why is a marathon 26.2 miles and not an even 26 miles?

Well, yes, but British royalty (as noted above) don’t always do things because they make sense.

The original marathon from the first modern Olympics in 1896 was actually based on physical landmarks. It began at Marathon Bridge and ended at Olympic Stadium in Athens.

This gave it a distance of 24.85 miles, or an exact 40 kilometers. This made sense until the 1908 Olympics, when the race ran from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium in England—a distance of exactly 26 miles.

However, the British royal family decided the race should finish right in front of their viewing box.

Unfortunately, getting the runners to end at that point meant tacking on an unnecessary 385 yards. The royal family seemed to think it all made perfect sense and put their royal feet down.

For whatever reason, this odd distance of 26 miles, 385 yards stuck as the official marathon distance thereafter and to this day.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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