Running the Marathon


Running is a very popular sport. Millions of people run because they enjoy it or want to be in good physical shape. A runner does not need a special talent or equipment—only well-cushioned shoes and comfortable clothes.

Daily running improves a person’s physical condition. It helps oxygen circulate through your body and it makes your heart and leg muscles stronger. Running helps you control your weight because when you run your burn up a lot of calories. It also helps you fight off stress after a tiring day in school or at work.


Many runners take part in long distance races. The most popular events are marathons. They are held in many cities all over the world and, for a good runner, taking part in a famous marathon is the highlight of a running career. Famous marathons are held in New York, Boston, London, Berlin and many other cities.

The marathon is the longest running event in the world. Its name goes back to the story of a Greek soldier who, in 490 B.C. , ran from the small village of Marathon to Athens, about 40 km away. He wanted to tell the people there that the Greek army had defeated the Persians.



Running the MarathonToday, the official marathon has a length of 42.195 km. The marathon has always been one of the main highlights of the modern Olympic Games, which started in 1896.

In the past decades African runners have dominated marathons all over the world. The Ethiopian Abebe Bikila ran barefoot to his first gold medal in the 1960 Olympic Games. He repeated his victory four years later. Experts think that African runners are better because they train in higher places in their home countries. Their legs may also be stronger than ours and they may have the ability to collect and store more oxygen. Schools are sometimes far away from homes, so children must walk or run many kilometres to get to classes.

There is no official world records in marathon races because courses are different all over the world. Sometimes a route is flat and runners are faster. Elsewhere a course may be hilly with lots of ups and downs. Bad weather with a lot of wind and rain makes it more difficult for runners to achieve good times.

The fastest marathon race took place in Berlin in 2003. Paul Tergat of Kenya finished in 2 hours 4 minutes and 55 seconds. The best time for a woman was set by Paula Radcliffe in the London Marathon, 2003—2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds.



Runners must be well-prepared and train a lot if they want to compete in a marathon race. For most hobby runners, the marathon is the longest race they have ever tried. They train for months—running up to 100 km a week.

During marathon training it is important to give your body enough time to rest and recover. If you feel tired or your muscles hurt you should take a couple of days off from running. During the last 2 or 3 weeks before a marathon many runners reduce their weekly training.



The right food is very important if you plan on running a marathon. Runners eat a lot of carbohydrates, which are turned into glycogen. The body stores glycogen and during the race it is turned into energy.

Athletes eat a lot of bread, rice, cereals and pasta in the weeks before race. They also try to eat fruits and vegetables and avoid fat.


During the Race

During a marathon it is very important to drink a lot so that your body does not dehydrate.

You should run at a steady pace. Don’t start too fast or you will become tired very quickly and can’t continue. This is called “hitting the wall”. In most cases runners then give up completely. On the other hand, you shouldn’t start too slowly or else you won’t reach the time limit you want to achieve.

After a marathon most runners feel pain in their muscles. This is normal and it may take a few days before your body becomes normal again.


The New York City Marathon

The New York marathon is one of the biggest and most famous races in the world. It has taken place every year since 1970. Almost 80,000 runners want to run the marathon each year, but only 30,000 are allowed to compete. They are chosen by lottery.

The course leads through all of New York’s five boroughs—starting on Staten Island and ending in Central Park. Over 2 million people cheer the runners along the course. They are entertained by 40 musical bands spread over the 42 km route.

A total of 600,000 $ in prize money are given to the best runners. The winner of the race receives 100,000 $ plus a new car.



New York City Marathon

New York City Marathon 2005 - Martineric from Lille, France



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  • ability = to be able to do something
  • achieve =to work hard to do something and to get a good result
  • avoid = to keep away from
  • barefoot = you don’t wear any shoes
  • borough = a large part of a town or city
  • carbohydrate = something that is in food like bread, sugar, potatoes. It gives your body energy
  • cereal = a breakfast food made from wheat or corn and usually eaten with milk
  • cheer = to shout and make somebody happy
  • circulate = to move around
  • compete = to take part in an event
  • continue = go on running
  • course = the place where a race is held
  • decade = ten years
  • defeat = to win over someone
  • dehydrate = if your body loses a lot of water
  • dominate = to control ; here : to be the best
  • elsewhere = in other places
  • entertain =to make people happy be doing something
  • equipment = special things you need to do something
  • fight off = fight against
  • highlight = the highest point or the best part of
  • improve = to get better
  • length =how long something is
  • long distance = travelling over many kilometres
  • lottery = to chose something by chance
  • main = important
  • on the other hand = to give another opinion
  • oxygen = gas that is in the air and that we need to breathe
  • pain = the feeling you have when something hurts
  • physical condition = same as physical shape
  • physical shape = the condition your body is in
  • prize money = the money you get when you win something
  • reach = get
  • receive = get
  • recover = to get better
  • reduce =to make smaller, lower
  • repeat = to do something again
  • set = here: achieve
  • soldier = a member of an army
  • spread =to cover a larger area
  • steady pace = not too fast and not too slow
  • store =to keep things somewhere until you need them
  • take a couple of days off = don’t run for a few days, just rest
  • victory = when you have won something
  • weight = how heavy you are
  • well-cushioned = soft, so that it doesn’t hurt when you run
  • well-prepared = here: to have a lot of training