Possible one of the most grueling events in the IAAF World Championships is the Marathon. This 42.195km race takes both a mental and physical toll on the competing athletes. This history of this event is just as exciting as the competition its self. The event name comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger who was sent from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. The messenger, so excited by the victory ran the 40km all the way to Athens without stopping and upon his arrival exclaimed “We have won” before collapsing and dying.
The official length of the Marathon has changed over the years, during the first Modern Olympic Games in 1896 the event was contested over a route of approximately 37km. This was changed in 1908 during the Summer Olympic Games in London, where the Marathon Course first measured 40km, starting at Windsor Castle and finishing at the Great White City Stadium. This route was changed because the Princess Victoria Mary wanted her children to watch the start of the race; therefore the Start Line was moved to the East Lawn of Windsor Castle, increasing the course length to 42km. It was then decided that the Finish Line was moved to below the Royal Box, as Queen Alexandra insisted on having the best possible view of the finish. With this addition the length of the 1908 Summer Olympic Games Marathon was set at 42.195km.
The official length was thus set at 42.195km (26 miles 385 yards) as of the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. It has been ruled that the official length of the course must not be less than 42.195km and an extension tolerance shall not exceed 42m or 0.1%.
According to the IAAF’s rules and regulations, the length of the course must be certified in advanced by an IAAF approved course measure and for measurement; the “Calibrated Bicycle Method” shall be used. This method uses a bicycle fitted with a special device known as the Jones Counter.
The Marathon Course for the IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011 will both start and finish at the historic Gukchae-bosang Memorial Park. The course consists of two loops of 15km and one loop of 12.195km around some of the most famous and scenic locations in Downtown Daegu.