Back in 1896, the first Olympic marathon was won by Spiridon “Spiros” Louis, a Greek water-carrier who finished the race in just under three hours. “Spiros” may have done even better if he hadn’t stopped in the Greek village of Chalandri to share a glass of wine with his uncle. While the glass of wine may be more myth than reality, it is a fitting anecdote for a long-distance event that has Greek roots, and is as much a social custom as it is a race to the finish line.
Having said that, marathons are becoming prestigious events, and the prize money for finishing first and setting new records has increased tremendously as a result of growing corporate sponsorship. Like the Grand Slam tennis events or the PGA Majors, marathon running now has the World Marathon Majors, a new system which recognizes the tradition and prestige of the five largest marathons. In accordance with the standard of ranking marathons on prestige, popularity and purse size, here are the world’s top 10 marathons.
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