Marathons are an intensive, time-honored tradition in which millions of people participate every year.
These iconic races often come with iconic marathon t-shirts with a wide variety of themes and design elements.
Good marathon t-shirts have the best combination of colors, a strong logo, and information about the location or even theme expressed either in creative imagery or text.
Marathons have been around for a long time and aren’t going anywhere, and neither is the market for marathon t-shirts!
History of Marathons
The history of the marathon goes back to the year 490 B.C in Ancient Greece.
After the Greeks defeated the Persians in the Battle of Marathon, a soldier named Pheidippides was said to have run approximately 26.2 miles from the town of Marathon all the way to Athens to announce their victory.
When the Modern Olympics were being formed in the nineteenth century, Pierre de Coubertin, the French founder of the International Olympic Committee, based the 1896 Olympic marathon on this Greek legend. The first Boston Marathon was a year later in 1897 and was inspired by this same model.
The traditional distance we associate with marathons, 26.2 miles, was not officially standardized until 1921.
Famous Marathons and Their T-Shirts
There are more than eight hundred marathons annually that occur all over the world. Here are some of our favorite iconic marathon t-shirts from some of the top international marathons:
The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon.
Their official t-shirts use the same image as the standard focus of their designs from year to year. Sporting the logo of the marathon’s organizers, the Boston Athletic Association, the Boston Marathon t-shirt design utilizes tradition and simplicity with a memorable logo and the title and year of the event.
There are of course many other awesome Boston Marathon t-shirts out there, many with more variety in their designs, or shirts that pay tribute to the races 2013 tragedy, but we couldn’t overlook this memorable, unicorn-featuring t-shirt!
Marine Corps Marathon
This is not only one of the largest marathons in the U.S., it’s also the largest marathon that does not offer a cash prize.
The logo of the MCM used as the core of all its shirt designs is more than visually appealing with strong use of color; it also creatively embodies an iconic piece of Military History by making a design inspired by the famous image of the Marines at Iwo Jima during WWII. We salute you for this iconic design.
This marathon is authentic to the legendary path run by the Ancient Greek soldier after the Battle of Marathon.
This is perhaps the most challenging international marathon with a large portion of the run being uphill. The shirt design not only reflects the Greek flag in its color scheme but also incorporates the actual route of the Marathon into a lightning bolt-looking symbol.
As with the previous designs, the Rome Marathon also embrace history in its t-shirt.
This shirt design is awesome for several reasons: it cleverly references a famous phrase about the city (which here is also relevant to road races), it deliberately uses color to make the Italian flag pop within the typography, and it utilizes an iconic landmark, the Colosseum, as a letter replacement. We love it!
Great Ocean Road Marathon
The Great Ocean Road Marathon takes place on the western coast of Australia and is known for its stunning views.
The color scheme on this design reflects the ocean locale and natural landscape of the event. The shoe is a common image in race t-shirts, but here, the design cleverly integrates the road’s coastal route and that marathon’s natural surroundings into the shape of a shoe. Nice work Australia!
Even though this event has only been around for about ten years, it’s now one of the largest marathons in the world.
This Tokyo Marathon t-shirt design is one of our personal favorites. Not only does it optimize the entire shirt, it makes brilliant use of the city’s map in a cool and creative way. Combined with clean typography on the lower right and a bold, dichromatic color scheme, this marathon t-shirt makes us all a bit more motivated to run 26.2 miles in Tokyo.