Classic Athens Marathon
Running the message
Until more efficient ways of transport were developed, running was a common way to transfer a message.
Especially in times of war it was important to have couriers with strong endurance, who could cover long distances as fast as possible.
The most famous message runner was the Greek soldier Pheidippides.
The traditional story relates that Pheidippides (530 BC–490 BC) was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon, Greece.
He ran about 240 km (150 mi) in 36 hours. He then ran the 40 km (25 mi) from the battlefield near Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word νικῶμεν (“We have won”), to then collapse and die, probably form exhaustion and dehydration and lack of fuel.To honor Pheidippides, the Marathon was initiated in 1896, as part of the Olympic Games.
The ancient Olympic Games date from 776 BC, honoring God Zeus.
According to the story, the dactyl Herakles and four of his brothers, raced at Olympia to entertain the newborn Zeus.
He crowned the victor with an olive tree wreath, which became a symbol of peace.
The other Gods that lived on Mount Olympus, also engaged in running, wrestling and jumping contests.
The modern Olympics Games started in Athens in summer 1896, with 241 athletes from 14 countries.
It has now grown to a worldwide event, with ca. 10.500 competing sport professionals, representing 204 nations and 35 different sports.
The Olympic Games take place every four years. The Winter Games are smaller and follow two years after the Summer Games.
The symbolic fire was first lit in 1928 during the opening of the Olympic Summer Games in Amsterdam.
Since 1936 the torch is carried from Olympia to the Olympic host city, starting weeks before the opening ceremony.
THE LONDON MARATHON
The distance of the very first Marathon in Athens in 1896 was 24.8 miles, based on the distance Pheidippides ran from the battlefield outside the town of Marathon to Athens (490 B.C.) to bring the news of the Greek victory over an invading army of Persians.
Olympic Games were held in London. That year, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria wanted the marathon race to begin at Windsor Castle outside the city so that the Royal family could view the start from their home. The distance between the castle and the Olympic Stadium in London proved to be 26 miles. Organizers added extra yards to the finish around a track, so the runners would finish in front of the king and queen’s royal box. Every Olympic marathon run since the 1908 Games has been a distance of 26.2 miles (42.195 kilometers).
Up until today this is the official Marathon distance and is measured by AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) and IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations). More than 380 of the world’s leading distance races from over 100 countries are IAAF-AIMS certified.
A follow up of these Olympic Games in London was The Polytech Marathon, held between 1909 and 1996. By then the Poly was Europe’s oldest regular marathon. It had seen more world records and had been run over 42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi) more often than any other marathon.
The London Marathon as we know it now started in 1981. It’s one of World Marathon Majors, just like the Boston Marathon and the Tokyo Marathon.
In 2020 a Virtual Special Edition” of the Athens Marathon took place from November 8th to 22nd, because of Covid-19.