Kimetto record and the five key marathon dates

Dennis Kimetto runs the fastest marathon time in history (2:02:57) on a record-eligible course at the 2014 ...
Dennis Kimetto runs the fastest marathon time in history (2:02:57) on a record-eligible course at the 2014 Berlin Marathon. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

The New York marathon will go ahead as planned on Sunday amid heightened security following the latest attack on the US financial capital that left eight people dead.

The decision underlines the widening popularity of marathon running, with tens of thousands of people lining up for races, following its humble beginning as a modern Olympic discipline in 1896.

Herewith key dates in the development of the marathon:





September 28, 2014

On the fast and flat Berlin marathon course which ends under the Brandenburg Gate, Kenyan Dennis Kipruto Kimetto broke the 123-minute barrier for the first time in history and established a world record of 2hr 2min 57sec which stands to this day. He never ran as fast again but opened up new horizons for runners who have set their sights on breaking the two-hour mark.

Fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, the Olympic Champion, ran 2hr 00min and 25sec in May 2017 in non-race conditions in Monza, a time that was not recognised by IAAF officials.

April 10, 1896

17 runners took part in the first Olympic marathon, at the inaugural Games of the modern era in Athens. Greek shepherd Spirodon Louis won the race which traces its roots to legendary Greek warrior Philippides who ran from Marathon to Athens, a distance of around 35 kilometres, to announce the Greek victory in the battle of Marathon over the Persians in 490 BCE.

July 24, 1908

At the London Olympics, tiny Italian Dorando Pietri entered White City stadium dehydrated, in agony and drunk with fatigue. He was helped by spectators and half-carried over the line by officials to finish in first place before collapsing unconscious. He was later disqualified but his exploits marked one enduring aspect of marathon — going beyond the body’s limits.

The race covered the 26.22 miles (42.195km) from Windsor Castle to the royal box in the stadium, a distance set as official for future marathons in 1921.

September 10, 1950

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila ran barefoot down ancient Rome’s Via Appia on his way to setting a new world mark and making history as the first African to win the Olympic marathon. The soldier who was a member of the imperial bodyguard of ruler Haile Selassie retained his title four years later and opened the way for a new era of African distance running dominance.

April 19, 1967

Katrine Switzer, 20, enters the Boston marathon and becomes the first woman to officially complete the oldest city course, first run in 1897. The journalism student was defying the ban on women taking part in the endurance race, officially to protect their fragile health and feminity.

Other women had run the  marathon distance earlier, but Switzer’s feat gained widespread publicity and helped change public perceptions and boost the cause of women marathon runners.

The Boston marathon was officially opened to women in 1972 and in 1984 women ran the Olympic marathon for the first time.


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