|The Marathon Race
The Marathon Race is globally known because it was born by a real historic and heroic event.
The marathon race commemorates the run of the Athenian soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield near Marathon to Athens.
In 490 B.C., the powerful Persian Empire decided to expand into Europe and attack the scattered collection of independent city-states that constituted Greece. The Persian army landed a large force just outside of one of the city-states, Athens, on the plains of Marathon.
Although the Athenian army was vastly outnumbered, they launched an effective attack. They succeeded in turning back the Persian army, which fled to the sea and sailed south for Athens. The Athenian army headed back to defend Athens, but messenger Phidippides was sent ahead to carry the news of the victory and warn of the approaching Persian ships.
Although he must have been at the limits of his endurance, having just run to Sparta and back and spent the morning fighting in heavy armour, Phidippides didn't hesitate. Amazingly, he reached Athens (approximately 42 kilometres from Marathon) in perhaps 3 hours.
He delivered the news of a Greek victory over the Persians while he uttered the world "nenikikamen" (we won) and then collapsed and died at the end of this historic run, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon.
Nearly 2,500 years later, the legend of Phidippides sparked the imaginations of the fathers of the modern Olympic Games. During the 1894 International Athletic Congress, Michel Bréal, a linguist and student of Greek mythology, suggested including a marathon race at the first Olympic Games. The 42,195m Marathon Race became one of the major competitive events when the Olympic Games were revived in 1896.
For Greeks in particular, the marathon was a special event and after all, it was a race that grew out of Greek history and commemorated the feat of a Greek runner.
In 1896, a Greek runner by the name of Spyros Louis competed in what has since been referred to as the 'Original Course' from the ancient city of Marathon to the "panathinaiko stadium" in Athens and won the gold medal of the first modern Olympic Games.
Spyros Louis became a legend of Greek and international athletics.
The Marathon Race has always had a prominent place in the hearts and minds of sports enthusiasts, as it represents the highest athletic effort where the human body, soul and mind are tested to their limits as the runner presses to the finish line.
Greece is the birthplace of the marathon race while the revival of the Olympic Games in Athens (1896) popularized the Marathon Race as we know it till today.