This Race is your race

The Leiden Marathon is a marathon for every runner. Our slogan is “It’s All About You” with a very valid reasonProfessionals and amateurs alike, we are here for you! The organisation behind the Leiden Marathon is already busy preparing for the 27th edition of this wonderful running event in Leiden. The tagline it’s all about you’ is very appropriate, because the distances participants can run are 2 kilometres (kids), 5, 10, 21.1 and 42.2 kilometres. And of course, there is the business run.


Almost 12,500 people took part in 2015. So we are expecting to pass the 15,000 mark in 2017. We are also putting together a stronger elite field, to meet the wishes of every runner and spectator on that exciting Sunday in May. And we have designed in 2013 one fantastic round for the 42.2K through historical Leiden and the typical Dutch surroundings with meadows, cows, mills and little villages.

Pieterskerk Church

The reception for all runners and other guests will be in the Pieterskerk church, where Jan Steen, the family of Rembrandt van Rijn and many other famous Leideners are buried. The church was also once called ‘Coningh der Zee’ (The King of the Sea), because sailors used to use the 100m high tower as a beacon. In 1512, the tower suddenly collapsed. The patron saint of Leiden, Saint Peter, had done his job well, because nobody was killed or injured. Count Floris V was born in 1254, in Gravensteen Tower on Pieterskerkhof Square, where tournaments were held in the middle ages.


The start will be on Breestraat, but the front side of the stately Leiden Town Hall, where Rembrandt van Rijn once held an auction, and which was later visited by countless celebrities. Breestraat is the main street of Leiden. In its middle is the blue stone, where thieves and other riffraff were punished, and inferior Leiden cloth was burned. Slightly further along is the Gemeenlands House, which dates from 1595, before Rembrandt was born.

"If it does not challenge you, it does not change you"

Origins of the Leiden Marathon

Leiden Marathon, Since 1991 The Leiden Marathon was started by the Leiden Road Runners Club, the first members of which gained their first experience of a marathon in New York. When they returned, they decided to organize their own marathon. The Leideners were so impressed by the atmosphere and organization that they took New York as an example. The first team of 48 runners who went to New York came from 3M Netherlands, and was therefore known as the 3M Marathon Team. The Leiden Road Runners Club was set up as an independent club after the New York trip. The Leiden Road Runners then presented a plan for a local marathon to the management board of 3M. The plan was approved, and 3M sponsored the event for the next 10 years. When – according to the headline in the Leidsch Dagblad – the inhabitants of the city of Leiden and surrounding municipalities ‘embraced’ the very first Leiden Marathon (16 June 1991), it was clear that a wonderful sporting event had been born, which would grow to become a mature marathon.

History The Marathon

The marathon has been in existence for more than 2,500 years The marathons in Leiden, Rotterdam, New York, Athens, Fukuoka, Berlin, etc., all have one thing in common: they all have the same history. For this reason, it is extremely interesting for you as a runner – and in fact almost obligatory – to know exactly how the marathon came into existence. We all know the story of the famous messenger who had to run approximately 42 kilometres in order to relay the message of the victory over the Persians, but there is more to the history of the Marathon than this. The story outlined above is well known. In 490 BC, the Greeks had won a battle against the Persians, and the message had to be relayed to the king. At that time there were no mobile phones, so Pheidippides had to run from the town of Marathon to Athens to relay the news. This is where the name marathon comes from. The official distance of the marathon, 42 kilometres and 195 metres, was established in 1923 and was run for the first time during the Olympic Games of 1908 in London. A course was set out in the British capital which was 42 kilometres long. The finish line was 195 metres from the royal residence. On the day of the marathon, the prince was ill, and they moved the starting line to just under the window of the Royal Nursery in the royal residence in Windsor Castle, so that the prince could watch the marathon from his bed. The finish line was moved to under the Royal Box in the Olympic Stadium, in response to shot putter and American flag carrier Ralph Rose’s refusal to dip the American flag before the Royal Box during the opening ceremony. This historic marathon was won by the American John Hayes, after the Italian Dorando di Desiderio Pietri was disqualified just a few metres before the finish line. He entered the Olympic stadium and had several hundred metres more to run when he collapsed with exhaustion. This happened several more times, until officials decided to carry him to the finish line, as a consequence of which he was disqualified by the race adjudicators.


The finish is behind the Town Hall, which was rebuilt after its predecessor spectacularly burned down on a very cold February day in 1929. The finish line is on Vismarkt, where the beautiful, covered Koornbrug Bridge is also located. There are many bars on boats moored along the Rhine, which are also perfect places to enjoy marathon day. For more than 900 years, Vismarkt and Nieuwe Rijn on the opposite bank have housed the goods market, on which Leiden’s existence is based.