A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 28, 2015
“The halfway point of a marathon is 20 miles” (running adage)

A marathon is 26.2 miles; a half-marathon is 13.1 miles. However, marathoners often experience “the wall” of endurance at the 20-mile mark. “There is a saying among marathoners: ‘After 20 miles, you’re halfway there’” was cited in 1975. “Conventional wisdom says that at 20 miles you are only halfway to the finish of a marathon” was cited in a 1999 book.


Google Books
The Washingtonian
Volume 10
1975
Pg. 56:
There is a saying among marathoners: “After 20 miles, you’re halfway there.”

Google Books
Run Farther, Run Faster
By Joe Henderson
Mountain View, CA: Anderson World Books
1984
Pg. 179:
The “wall” gives rise to the belief that a marathon doesn’t really begin until 20 miles.

Google Books
Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals
By Steven Jonas and Virginia Aronson
New York, NY: W.W. Norton
1999
Pg. 53:
If I managed to go 20 miles, I could probably run a marathon even though conventional wisdom says that at 20 miles you are only halfway to the finish of a marathon.

Google Groups: rec.running
Remember Your First Marathon?
Racerdb
8/23/00
(...)
Yep, I remember it well! Never hurt so bad in all my life!! Vowed to never do it again. With no training runs longer than 17 miles, and that was only once, I set off for Columbus Oh, in November 1986. Everything went well for 20 miles or so. Hit 20 in 2:05. No problem, right? Wrong!!!  I didn’t know what lay ahead. 20 miles really is the halfway point in a marathon. Last 6 miles took 55 minutes.

Google Books
Running at the Speed of Life
By James Lander
Warren, MI: ML Publishing
2006
Pg. 89:
In the marathon it is said the halfway point is closer to 18 or 20 miles. This is because the effort over the last 6 to 8 miles is thought to be comparable to that of the first 18 to 20. I have to agree.

Google Books
My First 100 Marathons:
2,620 Miles with an Obsessive Runner

By Jeffrey Horowitz
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2008
Pg. ?:
It’s no wonder that veteran runners say the marathon is really two races: the first 20 miles, and the last 6.2.

Runner’s World
Lance and Kristin Agree: 20 Miles is Halfway
How surprising math can be so true in a marathon.

MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2008, 12:00 AM

Running for Fitness
December 2, 2010
Race day
(...)
It is often said that the half way stage of a marathon is 20 miles; and it is certainly true that the last six miles are always as hard, mentally and physically, as the first twenty.  They are also always harder than you think they are going to be.  There is no suitable preparation for the experience.  The battle is mainly in your mind.

Google Books
Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide:
Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons

By Hal Higdon
New York, NY: Rodale, Inc.
2011
Pg. 10:
GLYCOGEN AND THE WALL
A term frequently used by marathoners is “hitting the wall.” This usually occurs around 20 miles into the race, about the time the body runs out of energy. Often this happens so suddenly that runners feel as though they crashed into a brick wall. Their pace slows. Their breath becomes labored. They struggle to finish. It can be said that the first half of the marathon is 20 miles long; the second half, 6.2 more.

Google Books
Boston Marathon
History by the Mile

By Paul C. Clerici
Charleston, SC: The History Press
2014
Pg. 83:
Wellesley is indeed the home of the 13.1-mile mark, the half marathon, the 21K. But it is not really halfway in regard to the effort and struggle required in a marathon.

“That’s at 20 [miles],” Squires said with great conviction.

Twitter
Philip Hersh
‏@olyphil
Long way to go.  The trope is the 2d half of marathon begins at 20 miles.  #BostonMarathon
10:25 AM - 20 Apr 2015

Seattle (WA) Times
Larry Stone
Russell Wilson’s contract conundrum: What’s the value of happiness, contentment?
Originally published July 28, 2015 at 8:12 pm Updated July 28, 2015 at 9:01 pm
(...)
It’s like running a marathon. The old saying (for which I can vouch) is that the halfway point of the 26-mile race comes at 20 miles. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityExercise/Running/Health Clubs • Tuesday, July 28, 2015 • Permalink