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History of the Marathon

 

The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 km (26 miles and 385 yards) that is usually run as a road race. The event began as a commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens.

 

Legend has it that in 490 BC there was a big war between the Persians and the Greeks on the battlegrounds of Marathon. Despite being outnumbered by the Persians 5:1, the valiant Greeks managed to defeat the Persians. The retreating Persians headed for Athens (the capital of Greece) in ships to capture the women and children who were waiting for the news about the war. The Greek army commissioned Pheidippides to carry a message to the waiting families, the news of the victory and to warn them of the approaching danger. Pheidippides ran 40 kms from Marathon to Athens very tired. He managed to convey the message and immediately thereafter, collapsed and died.

 

This great event inspired the inclusion of the Marathon as an event in modern day Olympics. The first Marathon race was run in 1896 at the Summer Olympics. The race was won by the Greek runner, Spiridon Louis.