Ancient Greek History

The Marathon Race Begins in Ancient Greece

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Greek MarathonDid you know that the first Marathon took place in Ancient Greece? Each year, people all over the world participate in marathons. In fact, if you’re fond of running this classic race, there are so many to choose from, it can be hard to pick just one! While today’s modern races are usually met with a celebratory atmosphere, the original Marathon runner met with a tragic end. Most runners today do know that their beloved race has its roots in Ancient Greece, but few know the real story.

It Began at the Battle of Marathon.

The first marathon actually took place at the Battle of Marathon. The scene of the ancient battle is actually a top tourist destination in Greece, and many avid marathon runners enjoy seeing the grounds because of its ties to their favorite race. The battle itself took place during the legendary Greco-Persian Wars, and if it weren’t for the bravery of one messenger, the results of that war would have been much different.

The outcome of the Battle of Marathon was significant because it showed that the Persian Empire wasn’t as “mighty” as was originally believed. The Persians originally believed that Ancient Greece would be an easy place to conquer. At the time, it was divided into a series of city-states, which, on the surface, made the region look like an easy one to conquer.

Heroics of the Greek Messenger – Pheideppes

However, the Battle of Marathon began to change that. Ultimately, the Greeks were victorious, and it was all because of the heroic acts of the messenger, Pheideppes, that changed the tide of the war. After the Greek army defeated the Persian army, the commander, Miltiades, told his messenger to send word to Athens that the Persians were headed their way.

Pheideppes did as he was told and ran the distance between Marathon and Athens as fast as he possibly could. Even though he was depleted by the journey (which we later realized, he might have actually run longer than the 26 miles), he managed to deliver the message that the Persians were on their way. The Athenians were able to prepare for war, which meant that the Persians completely lost the element of surprise. Athens won that battle, and Ancient Greece went on to win the war.

Unfortunately, Pheideppes life was cut short and he died shortly after he delivered his message, but was hailed as a hero. Of course, this story is considered a legend, and we may actually never know how the events actually transpired.

The Modern Marathon is Born

The first modern marathon race took place at the Athens Olympics in 1896, which was the site of the first modern Olympics. The race itself was added to the list of events to honor the ancient heroics of Pheideppes. However, unlike the first marathoner, the people who participated in the Olympics were able to train for the event.

Today, marathon races are run all over the world. In fact, this is considered one of the most elite races in the world! Marathons draw beginners and experienced runners alike, and each one who completes the race feels a sense of accomplishment. All of this has been made possible because of Ancient Greece!

Sources:  WikipediaBrittanica

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This post was written by GreekBoston.com

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