You know the adage, "Let's call a spade a spade"? I have no idea where this came from, but if there is one thing that shuffles my cards it's non-26.2 mile running races calling themselves a "marathon." I'm not trying to be elitist, because it's longer distances as well.
Here's the problem: as dictionary.com states, a marathon is defined as a foot race over a course measuring 26 mi. 385 yards, alluding to Pheidippides' 26-mi. (42-km) run from Marathon to Athens to carry news of the Greek victory over the Persians in 490 b.c. This is a very specific distance and therefor, races ONLY of this distance should be referred to as a "marathon."
However, dictionary.com swiftly turns around with a giant back-stabbing knife to offer second and third definitions: any long-distance race; any contest, event, or the like, of great, or greater than normal, length or duration requiring exceptional endurance (ex. a dance marathon, a sales marathon).
So ANY long distance race? Seriously?!? How then do you define "long"? Seems awfully subjective.
When in the context of running (and it really should only be used in this context; other contexts, get your own word), I declare ONLY the distance of 26 miles and 385 yards to be referred to as "marathon," because common sense should rule all. In this case, I'm looking at you "13.1 Marathon" (get over yourself - clearly a half, call it so), "Comrades Marathon" (56 mile ultra, why not mention that?) and this new "UVU Jungle Marathon" (preposterously long 242 kilometer, multi-day race through the Amazon jungle - yeah, that sounds like what Pheidippides did).
Let's stop this charade, once and for all. I'll put a committee together.