Modern Greek History

Marathon – The Ultimate Race Has Its Roots in Ancient Greece

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Do you know anyone people who have run a marathon? They train for months in order to complete this 26. 2-mile race. For many, it’s the ultimate test of endurance and commitment. Runners feel a sense of accomplishment when they cross the finish line.

These races take place all over the world, which gives everyone who wants to run one the chance. But, if it weren’t for the Ancient Greeks, this race wouldn’t take place today.

The distance between Athens, Greece and Marathon, Greece is exactly twenty-six miles and it was after the Greek victory against the Persians that the first “marathon” was officially run.

26 Miles – Distance Between Marathon and Athens

The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC. Historians believe that it was a turning point in the war between the Ancient Greeks and the Persians. At the time, Persia had the reputation of having the strongest army in the world. They made it their goal to extend their kingdom into Greece. The Persians believed they could easily conquer each of the Greek city-states.

Marathon was an important battle because it showed that the Persians weren’t as strong as they thought. When the various city-states united against a common enemy, the size of the Persian army didn’t matter. In this battle, the Greek army launched a surprise attack while the Persian cavalry was elsewhere and it was the Greeks who ultimately won.

Pheidippes – First Marathon Runner

Once the Greeks defeated the Persian army on the plains of Marathon, Greece, someone needed to give word to the Athenians. Persia was a threat to all city-states and Athens was especially vulnerable because it was one of the strongest ones. A Greek victory would bolster everyone’s confidence and give him or her the fuel they needed to win the Greco-Persian War.

Pheidippes was the first marathon runner. He was the one who was responsible for sending world to Athens that the Greeks had defeated the Persians. So, he ran from Marathon to Athens as fast as he could in order to deliver the good news. He achieved his goal and then collapsed. Though he died, his legacy is forever remembered.

Michel Breal – Founder of the Modern Marathon

The first modern day Olympics took place in 1896 in Athens and it was here that the first marathon race was run. Michel Breal had the idea to name the twenty-six mile race after Marathon, Greece, which was the site of the ancient battle between Persia and Greece.

Runners during that race ran from Athens to Marathon, just as Phedippes did. It ended in the Panathinaiko Stadium, the site of the 1896 Olympics.

Today, the Olympics are still an important forum for distance runners. If you are interested in running a marathon, you will be joining the millions of racers each year who want to test their endurance and mettle. Not only that, but you will be part of an ancient tradition that started on a battlefield in ancient Marathon, Greece.

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