The Marathon and the Half Marathon

The marathon is most probably the most famous race and each year attracts hundreds of thousands of people to spend a considerable amount of time in the winter training for a spring race. They then put themselves through hours of discomfort to complete the race. It is seen as a major act of endurance to complete the 26 miles let alone try and win it. Many people see it as an important part of their life as they get into their middle-age. They must need to complete a marathon, and this is not a bad idea as just preparing for this awesome task gets people as fit as they have ever been. The length of the marathon is now officially 26.219 miles long and was set in 1921, after the same length was used in the 1908 London Olympic Games, with the race starting at the Windsor Castle and then finishing in the White City Stadium.

Half Marathons are over half the distance, and generally quarter marathons are over 10 km. Marathons on occasions incorporate the shorter distance races, but generally most half marathons and 10 km races have their own separate race days. One of the largest marathons is the London marathon. Every April 40,000 runners, from the 250.000 applicants, take off to run 26 miles around the streets of London. The course is flat but with a fantastic course taking in the major landmarks of the capital.

London marathon runners see the sights

For many people it will be the only marathon they will ever run, and they will have prepared for the race with months of training and a pre-race warm up event would have been taken in along the way. Every year the Wokingham Half Marathon is run prior to London. Entrants attempt shorter races like this in order to try and build up their endurance before the big race. Some choose to head to Cranleigh where they have a choice of racing over 15 or 21 miles. This undulating course is seen as ideal for building up runners’ aerobic fitness levels.

Not everyone wishes to run London as it is so difficult to get a place unless people run for a charity.  The course also isn’t that taxing, and some people prefer a real test of stamina. People who really want to test their endurance head to Eastbourne in East Sussex each October for the Beachy Head Marathon. This course is off road and run alongside the South Downs National Park on trails, public paths and just the natural country side itself. The runners have to scale 300 steps and go through 14 gates but the big test are the hills.

The start and the first hill of many at the Beachy Head Marathon

Over the course there is a total ascent of 350 feet. The toughest part of the race is the last 6 miles where the runners have to cross the Seven Sisters and then climb Beachy Head before crossing the finishing line. This is one of the toughest marathons in the UK but 1500 runners take part to experience the spectacular views and test their stamina levels to the limit. The beauty of running a marathon is that at the end of the race there are so many happy, but exhausted people. Their biggest battle has been with themselves to complete the course, and at the finishing line there are many who are truly contented. Marathons test people’s endurance to the limit.


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