The history of the world’s oldest half marathon
Our history goes back to 1964 when Manuel Jaen, who was the person who was at the forefront of athletics Ilicitano at that time, wanted to organize a marathon race in the city of palms.
Given the difficulties that a competition of these characteristics entailed Manuel thought it might be a good idea to dispute the test in two stages, running just half 21km and 97 meters, on two consecutive Sundays.
After giving many laps to how this event would be organized on two different weekends, finally dismissed the idea and opted to dispute only one weekend, but keeping the idea of the 21km and 97 meters.
A mythical distance was born: The Half Marathon, whose first edition was celebrated on the first Sunday of April 1968 with victory of José Sempere Quesada.
The race ran through an urban circuit of 4,240 meters to which had to take five turns leaving the old railway station and running through paths between palm trees.
The beginnings were not easy, and in some years the race could not be organized, whose ‘ rare ‘ distance was not recognized until 1972. But since 1977 the Elche Half Marathon has not missed its annual appointment with the calendar of half marathons.
Is this therefore the world’s oldest half-marathon?
Of which they are disputed at present with total security but, being sincere, some references point to that previously they could have held other races on the Today popular 21, 097km.
On the page of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS) There are more ancient references, specifically one that dates back to 1956 when the Argentinean Osvaldo Suárez, who would then be 9th in the marathon test of the Olympic Games of Rome ‘ 60, ran in a Registration of 1h08:54 in Santiago de Chile.
Also in 1960 the British Brian Hill invested 1h07:01 in a test held in the British locality of Romford and in 1962 the North American Leonard Edelen also disputed a career of these characteristics.
However, all these tests could have been solo races and therefore no other organization could take from Elche the honor of having celebrated, and continue celebrating, the oldest half marathon in the world.