The oldest marathon in the world that is still held today is the Boston Marathon.

It was held 123 times in a row from 1897 to 2019, before the first cancellation in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. In Europe, the Košice Marathon is the oldest marathon event.

The oldest marathons in the world

1) Boston Marathon

Premiere: 1897

Annual date: Patriot's Day (3rd Monday in April)

Place: Boston (USA)

Participants: about 30,000

The Boston Marathon is not the first marathon ever held (after all, marathons were run at the 1896 Olympics), but it is the oldest marathon still held today.

The Boston Marathon celebrated its premiere on April 19, 1897. At that time it was still run over a distance of about 37 kilometers, as the marathon distance was not regulated until 1921. Since 1957, the race has been run over 42.195 kilometers. Before that, the distance was usually a bit too short. Even today, however, the marathon course is not suitable for world records because of the point-to-point course and the excessive gradient.

Boston Marathon

The marathon event was held every year without interruption until 2019. Not the World War, but the Covid 19 pandemic ended this series in 2020. Run is usually always on Patriot's Day, 2021 there was a one-time shift to the fall.

Unfortunately, in sad memory remains the bombing in 2013, where three people died.

All information about the Boston Marathon

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2) Yonkers Marathon

Premiere: 1907

Annual date: 3rd Sunday in October

Location: Yonkers (USA, NY)

Participants: under 1,000

Outside the USA, the Yonkers Marathon is hardly known. The marathon near New York City has a history of more than 100 years and runs along the Hudson River, among other places.

At the 2nd edition in 1908, the marathon had 145 participants including 20,000 spectators. Since 1972 women are officially allowed to participate. In 2001, the marathon was cancelled at short notice due to the terrorist attacks. Between 1947 and 1946, the Yonkers Marathon was the US qualifying race for the Olympic Games. Today, the event has little relevance.

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All information about the Yonkers Marathon


3) Kosice Marathon

Premiere: 1924

Annual date: Beginning of October

Place: Kosice (Slovakia)

Participants: 1,500

The Kosice Peace Marathon was first held in 1924. However, with eight male participants, the field was manageable. Between 1938 and 1944, the event was paused due to World War 2. In 2020, the event had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Women have been allowed to run in the Kosice Marathon since 1980.

It is the second largest marathon in Slovakia after the Bratislava Marathon. Around 1,500 take part over the 42.195 kilometers, plus several thousand athletes in the fringe events. The course records are on a good level with 2:07:01 hours and 2:24:35 hours.

All information about the Kosice Marathon


4) Seoul International Marathon

Premiere: 1931

Annual date: Middle of March

Place: Seoul (South Korea)

Participants: 15,000

The Dong-A Ilbo Seoul Marathon or Seoul Marathon is the oldest marathon in Asia. However, at the beginning, the course length was only 23.3 kilometers. It has only been run over the marathon distance since 1964. In the early years, the race was suspended several times. The reason was the Japanese occupation in Korea.

It is one of the fastest marathons from Asia. In the women's category, a marathon time of under 2:20 hours was already run in 2006.

All information about Seoul Marathon


5) Chuncheon Marathon

Premiere: 1946

Annual date: End of October

Place: Chuncheon (South Korea)

Participants: 13,000

The actual "oldest marathon" in Asia is the Chuncheon Marathon. Since Seoul has only been running over 42.195 kilometers since 1964, with Chuncheon another city in South Korea takes over the number 1 position. Although the distance was also too short at the premiere in 1946, only one year later it was actually run over the official marathon distance.

All information about the Chuncheon Marathon

Notes: Japan hosted the Lake Biwa Marathon - an elite marathon for men - starting in 1946. The race was discontinued after 2020 and transferred to the Osaka Marathon. The same is true for the Fukuoka Marathon, which started in 1947. This will not be continued after 2021. In South Africa, the Comrades Marathon has been organized since 1921. However, the course length of around 90 kilometers exceeds the marathon distance. However, it is probably the oldest ultramarathon in the world.


Summary: The 5 oldest marathons in the world

  1. Boston Marathon - since 1897
  2. Yonkers Marathon - 1907
  3. Kosice Marathon - 1924
  4. Seoul International Marathon - 1931
  5. Chuncheon Marathon - 1946

The oldest marathons in the USA

  1. Boston Marathon - since 1897
  2. Yonkers Marathon - 1907
  3. Pikes Peak Marathon - 1956
  4. Atlantic City Marathon - 1958
  5. Long Island Marathon - 1959
  6. Heart of America Marathon - 1960
  7. Washington's Birthday Marathon - 1962

From 1948 to 2001, the Western Hemisphere Marathon was held in Los Angeles. This was subsequently cancelled due to lack of participants.

Organized since 1956, the Pikes Peak Marathon climbs to an altitude of over 4,300 meters. It is one of the most spectacular mountain marathons in the world.

The oldest marathon in Canada is the Calgary Marathon. This has been held since 1963.

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