In 1976 25,000 people had run marathons. Thirty-four years later in 2010 ½ million people had started and finished a marathon, 41% of them were women.
The fastest official marathon time is 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 23 seconds, set by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang. The slowest was set by Lloyd Scott wearing a 110 pound diving suit in 5 days and 8 hours.
The largest marathon events are held in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Belin, London, and Tokyo. New York had the most in 2013 with 50,740 runners.
The first marathon was run in 1896 during the first Olympic Games in Athens. Seventeen competitors ran 40K (24.8 miles) from Marathon Bridge to the Olympic stadium.
Marathons of around 25 miles continued until the London Olympics in 1908. The length was intended to be 25 miles, but Queen Alexandra requested the race finish on the East Lawn of Windsor Castle so the royal children could watch from their nursery. That added 385 yards to the race – or 26.2 miles – and became the official standard for all marathons thereafter.