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Olympic marathon route confirmed

The Olympic marathon is a legendary event and has featured on the programme since the first Games of the modern era in 1896 in Athens. There have been so many incredible exploits and stories over the past century with this key event from the Games, with a race that is so challenging and demanding that nobody has ever won more than two medals in it. Scheduled for 10 August 2024 for the men’s event and the following day for the women’s race, the Paris 2024 Olympic marathon honours this legendary event and will follow a unique route paying tribute to the rich history of France and Paris.

Showcasing the women’s marathon

The marathon is one of the iconic events from the Olympic Games. For many years, the men’s marathon has been held at the end of the Games, on the competition’s final day, as a culminating event to bring the Olympic fortnight to a close. To showcase the performances by women athletes, this time we are reversing the order. The women’s marathon will bring a fortnight of intense emotions to a close on 11 August 2024, the competition’s final day, just a few hours before the closing ceremony, with the men’s marathon taking place the day before.

© Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images
Florence Carpentier, sports historian
“Holding the women’s marathon after the men’s event, bringing the Games to a close, is hugely symbolic. Especially with the marathon, because women struggled for a long time to be able to take part, to get officials and public opinion to accept that they could run races like this. The history of the first modern Olympic Games, in 1896 in Athens, was marked by this as well. A woman tried to take part in the marathon. She was rejected and prevented from signing up. And this continued throughout the 20th century: large numbers of women fought to have the right to run, and for a very long time it was believed that their physique meant they were unable to run races like the marathon. So, Paris 2024 showcasing the women’s marathon in this way really is very important.”

A tribute to the women who made history

The historic event recognised with the Olympic marathon route is a key moment from the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles, on 5 October 1789.

The Women’s March was one of the first demonstrations in history, a revolutionary, popular march led by women. Paris 2024 is paying tribute to this key moment from the history of contemporary France by including part of the route taken by these women during their march in the Olympic marathon route.

Olympic athletes following in the footsteps of a historic march

On 5 October 1789, 5,000 to 7,000 women from Paris’ popular quarters assembled in front of Paris’ City Hall to call for flour, because a shortage was putting bread production at risk in the capital and people faced starvation. The angry crowd decided to march on Versailles, to look for King Louis XVI, who was still living there. Faced with the King who came out to meet them on the balcony of the Palace of Versailles, the women called for various measures to help fight the threat of famine in Paris and chanted “The king in Paris!”. They returned to the capital, taking the King, the Queen and their children with them. They never returned to Versailles after this.

Florence Carpentier, sports historian
“This Women’s March in 1789 was symbolic on two levels. It is a symbol of the French Revolution, a key moment in the founding history of contemporary France. It was also a very strong moment in the history of women, as it was one of the first times that women united together as women to demonstrate. Women from Paris’ popular quarters came together because times were hard faced with rising living costs, there were food shortages, there was a certain feeling of discontent among the people in general, and women were the ones who demonstrated, because they were on the front line of this social crisis. They were the ones who were working and had to meet their families’ needs, who had to find food, and they were the ones who mobilised. This was a strong moment in the history of feminism and women’s activism.”

This march had major historic consequences, because the King then signed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens, which he had refused to ratify until then. He also ratified the end of privileges and symbolically returned to Paris, moving closer to his people. The Women’s March was therefore a key moment from the French Revolution and is considered to be one of the first demonstrations in history. A symbol of emancipation and advocacy, which the Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route will pay tribute to.

A spectacular and demanding route

In 2024, the men’s and women’s Olympic marathon races will follow a route that will be worthy of this event. It will link the Hôtel de Ville in Paris to Versailles, following a loop packed with history. The route will pass through nine of the Île-de-France region’s districts, against a backdrop of some of Paris’ most well-known monuments, the Paris region’s iconic parks and forests, and the majestic Palace of Versailles site: Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt, Sèvres, Ville d’Avray, Versailles, Viroflay, Chaville, Meudon and Issy-les-Moulineaux.

This route across Île-de-France will give the marathon an original profile and will set demanding conditions for the athletes, because the Paris region is not as flat as it might seem. While a marathon is always a challenge for the body, this will be particularly true for the Paris 2024 event, with a route that will include a 436m climb and 438m descent. The maximum gradient on the route will be 13.5%.