By Stan Greenberg
Last updated 2011-03-03
Epitomising the tremendous wave of public sympathy for Italy's Dorando Pietri, Queen Alexandra, who had watched his struggles from the Royal Box, was so taken by the runner’s efforts, to no avail in the end, that she presented him with a special gold cup. This was not the only royal connection with the race.
Originally, the race was due to be over a distance of 25 miles (40km), the approximate length of the four previous Olympic marathons. However, the start line was moved to the gate of Windsor Castle, which adds about a mile, and then Princess Mary requested that it be moved again, to within the castle grounds under the windows of the royal nursery. Then the length was added to yet again, in the stadium, so that the finish line was by the Royal Box.
The final distance, so arbitrarily arrived at, of 26 miles and 385 yards (42,195 metres), was accepted by world officialdom as the standard marathon distance in 1924.
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