The modern marathon is one of the most grueling sporting events in the Olympics. However, contrary to what many people believe this foot race is not a modern invention. In fact it has its origins in antiquity.
Runners often risk injury as a marathon is run over a distance of just over 26 miles. usually on roads.
The modern marathon celebrates the accomplishment of a Greek soldier named Pheidippides who ran non stop to Athens to inform the city elders of the victory of their armies at Marathon (hence the name). That victory over the Persians would ensure that the Greek Empire would last for another generation. Legend has it that he delivered his message and then immediately dropped dead from exhaustion.
Irrespective of the origins the first of the modern day marathons was run in 1896. But the distances did vary until an official distance was agree by sporting authorities in 1921.
Today marathons are not only hosted at the Olympic Games, there are nearly a thousand officially sanctioned marathons held all over the world every year. these marathons attract world class athletes from across the globe – and the prize money can run into millions of dollars.
1896 Was of course the beginning of the modern Olympics. The idea to include the marathon was one that was well thought out. Aside from more modern disciplines the organizers wanted something that would cement the games in the ancient tradition of fair play and human achievement at the highest level.
The marathon does all of that. It puts endurance and spirit of the individual at the pinnacle of what separates elite athletes from those who want to merely explore fitness. The history of the warrior Greek who literally sacrificed all for his state is echoed in the superb athletes who today take part in the marathon. A spectacle watched by people all over the world – and who salute those who take part for their dedication and bravery.
For more information on ancient Greece, please watch the following video: