Remember when the Manchester Marathon used to be too short?

Sorry, folks, they've measured it properly this year so no let-offs for you.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 13th April 2024

One of the most popular runs in the UK returns this weekend as the 2024 Adidas Manchester Marathon gets underway on Sunday morning, but did you know the famous race was once too short to count as the full shebang?

Yes, it may very be one of the flattest and most accessible races anywhere in Europe but once upon a time the Manchester Marathon was technically a marathon, as those in charge of measuring the thing up didn’t quite nail it.

One job, guys. You had one job…

Here’s the story of for three whole years, tens of thousands of runners sadly didn’t technically complete the Manchester Marathon.

Manchester Marathon: The ‘ish’ years

As was widely publicised at the time, in 2016 it was found that roughly the three previous years of the race course that runs throughout Manchester city centre, into the likes of Trafford, Chorlton, Altrincham and beyond didn’t actually fulfil the complete distance needed to qualify as a marathon.


While the race route has to stretch for 26.2 miles, or approximately 42.195 kilometres if you prefer metric (always one that splits the crowd) to count as an official marathon, it turned out that in 2013, ’14 and ’15, Manchester’s biggest running event fell just short of that mark.

Due to a measuring error – for which blame was placed on the Association of UK Course Measurers (AUKCM), who said an accredited measurer had ridden the course in 2013 but fell foul to an error in the calibration of the bicycle wheel – those three years ended up being 380m too short.


As a result, roughly 24,000 runners who ran the Manchester Marathon during this three-year period essentially had their races voided, including plenty of elite athletes, as the official UK Athletics governing body simply could not recognise their times. How fuming would you be?

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Speaking in an official statement at the time, AUKCM said they regretted the mistake, confessing: “Significant errors in measurement are rare – our procedures are designed to find them at the reporting or checking stages”.

Xtra Mile Events, who were still the organisers of the event at the time, went on to add: “We all understand the anguish and huge disappointment this creates and want to assure our runners that we share the upset and emotion from the AUKCM news regarding the race distance.”


Thankfully, such mistakes haven’t been suffered since and now under the umbrella of sporting giants Adidas, you won’t catch them making the same slips-ups.

Best of luck to all of you racing this Sunday and rest easy in the knowledge that while you might be absolutely dying by those last few miles, at least you can be sure those every one of those final yards is going to count. Now go and smash it!

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Featured Images — adidas Manchester Marathon