Among the sports that are popular in modern France are the marathon races, or simply a marathon. There is a legend about the origin of these competitions. They were allegedly established in 490 BC in Greece in memory of a Greek warrior named Filippid. (This young man after the battle of Marathon nonstop rushed to Athens to please the residents of the news of the victory. And he ran to the place bringing good news, but barely having time to say the words, fell down and died).
As you know, the marathon as a discipline of athletics for a long time (since 1896) is considered to be an Olympic discipline, thereat the women participating in races were «legalized» only in 1984. Michel Breal, the French philologist, proposed in 1896 to introduce this discipline in the program of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens. Pierre de Coubertin, the their founder, supported this idea (as well as co-organizers, the Greeks).
Now, according to the rules established by the AIMS organization (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races), the distance of the marathon is twenty six miles and 385 yards (that is forty two kilometres and 195 meters).
The most common marathon competition are held on the highway, a also quite popular distance in the country is half marathon. (As it is clear from the title, in this case, the athletes run half the marathon distance).
5 most important marathons are held annually in the world: in London, Berlin, Chicago and New York, and of course, in Paris. (This race usually involves over 50,000 runners from hundreds of countries).
The route of the Paris Marathon (Marathon International de Paris) passes through the Avenue Foch, picturesque Champs-Elysees, Bois de Bologne and Bois de Vincennes, the Bastille and the Place de la Concorde. (Also on the way of runners is Notre Dame de Paris, Château de Vincennes, the Musée d'Orsay, the Eiffel Tower). Every 5 km of the marathon distance in Paris the feeding centers are arranged where the athletes can eat fruits and raisins, drink mineral water.
Along the entire route of the race there are always crowds of spectators, fans, vigorously supporting the athletes! Also, along their way the music of numerous orchestras is heard which creates all the Parisians and visitors a festive atmosphere.
Another interesting race is a marathon of Mont Saint-Michel, which starts in Brittany and finishes in Normandy. (The main part of the route is laid along the coast of the Bay of Saint-Michel).
The uniqueness of the race is that it is held at low tide - the athletes run on the track which is most of the time is hidden underwater!