Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The first Paris Marathon took place in 1896. A big crowd gathered to watch 191 participants. It was run over the 40 km separating Paris from Conflans and the organisers decided to award a commemorative medal to all runners who finished the race in under 4 hours.
This shorter distance of 40km was chosen as it was the distance separating Marathon from Athens. The current distance of the race is 42.195 km - the standard Olympic Marathon length.
This first race was won by Len Hurst from England who crossed the finishing line in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 30 seconds. His prize money was 200 francs.
Like other marathons around the world it only took on mass popularity amongst professionals and amateur competitors in 1976. It is normally held on the first Sunday of April (around two weeks before the London Marathon) and is limited to 35,000 runners.
The top male finisher was newcomer Ethiopian Ambesa Tolosa in a time of 02:08:56. This was the Ethiopian's 9th ever marathon and he beating the race's favourite - Kenya's Raymond Kipkoech who came in at 02:10:08. The fastest female was Kenyan runner Salina Kosgei (also a newcomer on the event) in 02:24:32, ahead of Ethopian Asha Gigi and France's Corrine Raux.
Switzerland’s Heinz Frei won the wheelchair event.
The top male finisher was Kenyan Mike Rotich with a time of 02:06:33, setting a new record for this event. Coming in second, France's Benoit Z equalled the existing European record, at 2:06:33. The fastest female was Kenyan runner Béatrice Omwanza in 02:27:41, ahead of Italy's Rosaria Console.
France's Joel Jeannot won the wheelchair event.
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