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History of the Marathon

Marathon Defined

SEP 18 2008

The word Marathon first came about in the land of Greece. It is the name of the place where troops from the Athens defeated the Persian army in 490 BC. One of the soldiers from the Athenian army named Pheidippides, ran a 25 miles to bring the good news that the Greek won over the Persians.

According to the legend, the moment Pheidippides shouted victory; he died instantly that set a dramatic environment in the Marathon.

When the first Olympic Games were held in 1896 that was set in Greece, they revived the legend of Pheidippides. They did the 4000 meters distance that covered the Marathon Bridge to the Olympic Stadium located in Athens. In tradition, this was the last main event in Olympics because this is the much anticipated of all the games. The first marathon was held in April 10, 1896. This is so important event for all the Greeks. Greece was the first host country for the Olympics. During this time, they have not yet won a medal and the marathon was the last chance to revive their glory. The first marathon got 25 participants that assembled on the famous Marathon Bridge. Once the gun was fired, the race was on. There was excitement in the crowd that was waiting at the finish line. It was in the newly constructed ancient stadium in Athens. This was all narrated by Greek historian named Quercetani.

Spiridon Louis was the first one who crossed the finish line with seven minutes lead from the pack. He was a postal worker from the village and a military veteran. His recorded time was 2 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds and this covered 40 kilometers. There were 9 runners who finished and 8 of them are Greeks. Greece people were so happy and hence the marathon event was born. A USA citizen was one of the 9 runners who completed the race. His name was Arthur Blake. He was the only American citizen who joined the first marathon. This was sponsored by Boston Athletic Association. On his way back to America, he planned the first marathon to be held there. In April 19, 1897, the first marathon in America happened that was sponsored by Boston Athletic Association.

The Olympic Games that happened in London in 1908 made changes in the marathon rules. The distance where changed to twenty six miles that covers the ground of Windsor Castle to White City stadium. This happened because organizers added up 385 yards so that Royal Family can view it from their viewing box. This clearly added 2 miles to the course. This is where the tradition of shouting "God save the Queen!” every time they pass by the 24 mile mark. This issue has undergone intense discussion. In 1924 Olympics that was held in Paris, the 26.2 mile distance was established as the official distance.

Today marathon has become a running tradition. The annual marathon happened in Greece is where it all began. Last 1996, the Athens marathon reached its 100 anniversary and more than thousand of runner from all over the world have gathered to run in the path taken by Pheidippides.

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