[mar-uh-thon, -thuhn]
a foot race over a course measuring 26 mi. 385 yards (42 km 195 meters).
any long-distance race.
any contest, event, or the like, of great, or greater than normal, length or duration or requiring exceptional endurance: a dance marathon; a sales marathon.

1895–1900; allusion to Pheidippides' 26-mi. (42-km) run from Marathon to Athens to carry news of the Greek victory over the Persians in 490 b.c. Unabridged


a plain in SE Greece, in Attica: the Athenians defeated the Persians here 490 b.c.
an ancient village that is near this plain.
Classical Mythology. a son of Epopeus and the father of Corinthus. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
marathon (ˈmærəθən)
1.  a race on foot of 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 kilometres): an event in the modern Olympics
2.  a.  any long or arduous task, assignment, etc
 b.  (as modifier): a marathon effort
[referring to the feat of the messenger who ran more than 20 miles from Marathon to Athens to bring the news of victory in 490 bc]

Marathon (ˈmærəθən)
a plain in Attica northeast of Athens: site of a victory of the Athenians and Plataeans over the Persians (490 bc)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1896, marathon race, from story of Gk. hero Pheidippides, who ran the 26 miles and 385 yards to Athens from the Plains of Marathon to tell of the allied Greek victory there over Persian army, 490 B.C.E. The original story (Herodotus) is that he ran from Athens to Sparta to seek aid, which arrived too
late to participate in the battle. Introduced as an athletic event in the 1896 revival of the Olympic Games, based on a later, less likely story, and quickly extended to mean "any very long event or activity."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
His idea: a marathon race that would allow the cars to run full out for a long
  period of time.
Completing a marathon is a worthy item for the bucket list.
It is a marathon with many runners falling by the way side.
One of the more special moments in the marathon of launch events is crew
Images for marathon
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