Aspire is the charity partner for a running event that follows the exact route of the 1908 Marathon.  The Original Marathon will trace the route of the 1908 Olympic route which began at Windsor Castle and ended at White City Stadium. On that day 75 runners started the event and only 27 finished.

Original Marathon logo

This is an event aimed at historians of running and for people who want to be part of Marathon Heritage.  The 1908 event is remembered today for the controversy at the finish.  Its rich history will be part of the re-running of this historic event and pacers will explain to runners the history and significance of landmarks as they run.

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The 1908 Marathon

The London 1908 Olympic Games marathon was the first ever over the 26.2 miles distance. Prior to 1908, marathons were run over varying distances.

The 1908 route from inside the grounds of Windsor Castle, through Eton, Harrow and Wembley finished on the track in the White City Stadium in front of the Royal box. Some historical elements of this race remain to this day - there is still an original marathon waymarking sign still up from 115 years ago on a wall in Eton and the site of the Olympic finish line is etched in stone in the new BBC White City development.

Sign from the Original London Marathon

The 1908 event was also famous for Dorando Pietri (Italy), who due to exhaustion, went the wrong way when entering the stadium, fell five times and was helped to his feet by officials. He was first across the line, but was subsequently disqualified for receiving assistance following an appeal by the US team. The American Johnny Hayes was awarded the Olympic gold medal. This caused a great deal of public love and sympathy for Pietri, who subsequently received a special cup from the Queen.

Following the success of the 1908 marathon, a legacy event was created running from 1909 to 1996. The Polytechnic Marathon (Poly Marathon) was London’s first marathon and the race hosted 8 world record times, including the first ever sub 2 hour 20 marathon (marathon running’s ‘4 minute mile’). The Poly Marathon is STILL the longest running European marathon!

Original Marathon will replicate the 1908 Marathon route. The aim is to develop the event into a must-do event in the running calendar, raise money for charity and re-establish a famous, historical run with fantastic sporting heritage.
We believe that the story of the infamous 1908 Olympic Marathon needs to be shared and celebrated. The 1908 Olympic Marathon was the very first to be held over the (now standard) distance of 26.2 miles (42.195 km). A distance that was ratified in 1924 and has been the standard marathon distance ever since.  Original Marathon will replicate the route, start time, medals and even replicate the original number of entrants (75) of the original 1908 run. The run will be on open footpaths and guided in pace groups. The route retraces the 1908 route as much as possible, with some necessary minor deviations.

Original Marathon will be an opportunity for runners to follow in the footsteps of sporting legends.

Brian's experience of running the Original Marathon

Register for the 2025 Original Marathon

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