01 JUL 2002 General News Road running

Road running - Introduction

What is Road Running?

Road running has a long and rich tradition. Contests between "pedestrians" (usually with money at stake) were hugely popular in England in the 18th century and later in Europe and the USA. The great success of the first Olympic marathon race in Athens in 1896 helped popularise the marathon event, particularly in America. A marathon race was held in New York in September 1896 and the first Boston Marathon took place the following year. After the "jogging boom" of the late 1970s road running established itself as a populist athletic challenge.
Today, road running, from the humblest town centre fun run to the elite big city marathon events, has become the main sporting activity of many people. In addition to the most glamorous road racing event, the marathon, world championships have been staged also by the IAAF in recent years at the half marathon distance and for the road relay. The latter event, also known as the "Ekiden" is one of the most unusual in the competition calendar. It is a marathon distance relay run by teams of six runners. Originating in Japan in 1917, the present format sees teams of six runners compete over a total distance of 42.195 km. Three athletes run 5 km each, two athletes 10 km each and the final runner the remaining 7.195 km.