The marathon is a defining event in communities around the globe. For participants, that sense of community is even greater and extends to an international group of runners who often times compete in the same events year after year.
Even many of those who do not race in the 42.195km events regularly participate in supporting activities, including organizing races, handing out water during the events and cheering along the race routes.
An International Sense of Community
Sadly, this year, the sense of community was shattered by 2 bombs tearing through the crowd and participants of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Hundreds were injured and maimed and several killed by the heinous act of two brothers, one of whom faces prosecution. When those bombs went off, the Boston Marathon became more than a mere running event.
As subsequent tributes during other marathon events showed, the bombings strengthened the sense of community that extends around the globe among marathon runners.
The carnage from the domestic terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon easily proved to be the most compelling of all marathon events during 2013. Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki
2 young brothers converted pressure cookers into time bombs that killed 3 and injured or maimed 281 competitors and bystanders during the event. One of the bombers was killed during a subsequent shootout with local police while the other awaits trial.
A moment of silence is observed before the start of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon held April 21 to honor the victims of the twin bombings during the Boston Marathon held earlier during the year. Photo Credit: Luke Macgregor / Reuters
A near-photo finish as Australian Kurt Fearnley narrowly beats Switzerland’s Marcel Hug at the finish line of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon. Photo Credit: UPI / Hugo Philpott
Runners celebrate at the inaugural Right to Movement Palestine Marathon, which was held in the West Bank city of Bethlehem and was hosted by the Palestinian Authority. The race route began at the Church of the Nativity and took runners by two refugee camps and the West Bank barrier wall before ending in a suburb of Bethlehem. Photo Credit: Palestine Marathon
Competing in his first marathon event, Kenya's Hillary Yego wins the race from Marathon to Athens, Greece, which is run along the original route some 2,500 years after the famous military battle was fought. Photo Credit: Nick Gomolis / ACM
The Beijing Marathon is held in October each year and draws a large contingent of Chinese as well as international runners. Photo Credit: Beijing Marathon
The New York Road Runners, organizers of the annual ING New York City Marathon, reported a record 50,266 finishers during the 2013 event held in November, which starts at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island. Photo Credit: AP / Jason DeCrow
Ryan Sandes en route to winning the Patagonian International Marathon in Chile, which marked its second year in 2013 and ranks as one of the most scenic runs as well as one of the most challenging due to its high altitude and decreased oxygen levels. Photo Credit: Patagonion International Marathon
Runners cross the scenic Bixby Creek Bridge during the Big Sur International Marathon, which draws competitors from 25 nations. Photo Credit: Big Sur International Marathon
Runners taking part in the Borneo International Marathon take the time to smile for the camera. The event is the first marathon to take place in Borneo in more than 20 years. Photo Credit: Borneo International Marathon
Time-lapse photo of colorful competitors during the Prague International Marathon in the Czech Republic. Photo Credit: Martin Kozák
An early morning start of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, which takes runners along a scenic waterfront tour of the Southeast Asian city-state. Photo Credit: Straits Times
Competitors run past Ayers Rock along a red-soiled route during the 2013 Australian Outback Marathon. Photo Credit: Australian Outback Marathon
More than 2,500 runners from more than 50 nations participated in the annual Great Wall Marathon in China in May, which has been held since 1999 with the race route going along a section of the ancient wall built to keep Mongol hordes and nomadic warriors at bay. Organizers bill the race as "being 5,164 steps into history". Photo Credit: Great Wall Marathon
Running along the famous Champs-Elysee near the Arc de Triomphe are tens of thousands of competitors during the Marathon de Paris along the same route the victorious armies of Napoleon once marched. Photo Credit: Marathon de Paris
October 2013 running of the Airtricity Dublin Marathon in Ireland in which a record 14,651 runners competed in the Emerald Isle event. Photo Credit: Dublin Marathon
Gladys Tejeda Pachuaranga wins women's title during the XXXI International Marathon of Mexico City, with the final stretch finishing in the same stadium where the 1968 Summer Olympics were held. Photo Credit: Jazmiz Adrian
The 2013 Tokyo Marathon is as much about fun as it is a serious long-distance running competition with many runners dressing in a wide array of costumes while completing the 26.2-mile course in downtown Tokyo. Photo Credit: Tokyo Bling
The Valencia Marathon in Spain is held on a mostly flat course each November in mostly ideal temperatures and through stunning venues. Photo Credit: Maratón Valencia
Brazilian Adriano Bastos wins an unprecedented eighth Walt Disney World Marathon ahead of a record number of 65,000 runners during the event held on 13 January 2013, at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Bastos won with a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes and 16 seconds. Photo Credit: Florida Leisure
Enjoy The Journey, Not The Destination
As these 20 photographs clearly illustrate, no marathon is the same. Each one has its own personality as well a unique challenge for those who compete in them. While not everyone can win a marathon, everyone who completes a course has won a personal challenge.