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Marathon runs got their name after the Greek soldier Pheidippides, who ran to Athens to deliver the message about the Greek victory over the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. The accuracy of this legend is doubted, but this fact does not prevent marathon running from becoming a popular phenomenon and an integral part of calendar in big cities around the world, attracting thousands of runners in some cases.
The modern marathon running was on a larger scale rediscovered in 1896 when the first modern Olympic Games took place. Over the years, the number of big marathons and participants grew and in these days there are approximately 800 major marathons in the world each year.
In Vienna, the marathon as we know it today started in 1984. On 25 March 1984 Vienna Marathon attracted 794 competitors. Since then there have been 26 years of running in the streets of Vienna and the number of competitors grew substantially, both in the competitive part, as well as the much larger recreational and tourist part of the marathon field. Vienna therefore joined the prestigious society of Boston, Chicago, New York, London, or Berlin – the world-class marathon venues.
Like other cities which have joined the marathon organizers’ club, Vienna also offers a half-marathon for those who consider 42 km of running a bit too much. And unlike some other cities, the half marathon in Vienna takes place on the same day as the marathon. This fact makes the organization more difficult, but so far the organization of all Vienna City Marathon events has been close to perfection every year.
The popularity of the race has been supported by the attractive race course. While running the Vienna City Marathon, you pass a vast majority of Viennese landmarks, including the UNO City (where the marathon starts), Prater, the State Opera, Schönbrunn Palace, or the Imperial Palace (where the marathon finishes at Heldenplatz).
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