History of Paris Marathon

1896 : first Paris Marathon

On April 14th, 2019 will be held the 43rd edition of the Marathon de Paris, one of the largest in the world, which will bring together 55,000 participants, from over 145 countries. If this date is today a must for many runners, either professionals or amateurs, the very first edition gathered at most 191 participants on July 19th, 1896. The time was then to the rebirth of Olympism with the first Olympic Games of the modern era organized in… in Paris.

Winner in 2 hours 31 minutes and 30 seconds, on a route that connects Paris and Conflans, the British Len Hurst is rewarded 200 francs by the organizer of the race, the Petit Journal. The first Frenchman, Albert Ocrey, will rank 16th.

Renaissance of the Paris Marathon in 1976

The Marathon de Paris then lost in time until 1976 when it was reborn at the initiative of a group of running enthusiasts. Of the 126 starters, all men, Jean-Pierre Eudier distinguished himself by winning this first Marathon de Paris of the 20th century, with a time of 2 hours 20 minutes and 57 seconds.

Very quickly, the Marathon de Paris took on a new dimension and changes its profile. Year on year, the race attracts more participants from all around the world, both male and female. Paris gradually turned as a must venue and marathon runners became more popular. 

In 1984, 10,000 starters hit Paris roads during an event supported by a professional organization and logistics. In 1996, the number of runners more than doubled with 22 000 runners at the start. That year, the best of them could hope wining their ticket for the Olympics in Atlanta. The Marathon de Paris is no longer reserved for professional athletes. Many amateur runners join in a quest for personal challenge or a challenge shared with friends or colleagues.

Who organizes the Paris Marathon ? 

Since 1998, It’s A.S.O. , the acronym for Amaury Sport Organization. It is a company whose core business is the organization of sports events, mainly off stage. A.S.O is also organizing other famous sports events such as the Tour de France, Paris-Dakar, Mud Day and others marathons like :

  • Marathon de Marseille 
  • Mont St Michel Marathon 
  • Lyon Marathon
  • Reims Marathon 

The company Schneider Electric is itself the title sponsor of the event since 2013. One could believe at first that it is the firm that organizes the race, but it is indeed ASO which organizes the Schneider Electric Paris Marathon 2019. We also find partners like Asics, Air France, JBL, Vittel or Banana from Guadeloupe and Martinique. 

The Paris Marathon, an innovative marathon

The Marathon de Paris is also at the origin of new practices such as the pace leader, launched in 1998 and then re-used everywhere in the marathon world: a runner is responsible for printing a regular rhythm so that a group of runners is regulated and can achieve their goal.

Among many little stories in relation with the Marathon de Paris, one often quotes 1983 as the year when the race was won by a totally unknown in the female category, Jacqueline Courtade. She would never have come ask for her prize and there are still strong doubts as to the regularity of her performance. In 2008, however, a competitor, who was absolutely eager to achieve a good time, simply used the subway to rally the arrival… In 2017, the Kenyans Paul Lonyangata (2 hours 6 minutes 10 seconds) and Purity Rionoripo (2 hours 20 minutes and 55 seconds) won in their respective categories : they are husband and wife in civil life.


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